Analyzing the Pac-12 schedules

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
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The schedule plays a huge role in a team's success. A couple of tweaks to a schedule can make a good team look great or a good team look mediocre.

Utah benefited this season from not playing Oregon or Stanford. Arizona's schedule, which featured four top-10 teams in a row -- one of the toughest stretches probably in college football history -- got coach Mike Stoops fired. In 2012, missing USC or Oregon figures to provide a boost to bowl-eligibility.

If you want to check out the team-by-team Pac-12 schedules, go here. If you want to look at the schedule week-by-week, go here.

We're going to break down each team's schedule, but first some notes.
  • Arizona will host eight home games, the most at Arizona Stadium since 1988.
  • Teams that miss Oregon: UCLA, Utah.
  • Teams that miss USC: Oregon State, Washington State
  • Team with the best miss combo: Utah with Oregon & Stanford, though that's not as great as it was in 2011.
  • Team with the worst miss combo: California with Arizona & Colorado and USC with Oregon State & Washington State
  • Toughest stretch: Colorado plays at USC and at Oregon on back-to-back weekends in October (20th and 27th). It then plays host to Stanford. Ouch.
  • Toughest stretch II: After a bye, Washington plays Stanford, at Oregon and USC back-to-back-to-back
  • Easiest nonconference schedule: Oregon: Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech. Really Ducks?
  • Toughest nonconference schedule: Oregon State opens against Nicholls State, but the Beavers then play host to Wisconsin and visit BYU.
  • Best bye: Both USC and Utah are off on Sept. 29 before their Thursday night game on Oct. 4 in Salt Lake. That could be the Pac-12 South Division game of the year, and both teams should be rested and well-prepared. If you were looking for a potential trap game for USC, look no further.
  • Worst bye: California on Nov. 24. The Bears bye comes right before the Pac-12 championship game, which is completely useless -- unless the Bears are playing in the game. Otherwise, it's 12 consecutive games with no weekend of rest.
  • Wild possibility: Oregon vs. USC is so late in the year -- Nov. 3 -- and both schedules are so manageable, it's possible it could be a matchup of Nos. 1 & 2.
Arizona
Home: 8; Road: 4
Miss: California, Washington State
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 TOLEDO
Sept. 8 OKLAHOMA STATE
Sept. 15 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE

Skinny: Sets up for a 2-1 start in the nonconference schedule, which is nice compared to 2011. Good home schedule -- eight games! -- so plenty of motivation for fans to come out for Year 1 of Rich Rodriguez.

Arizona State
Home: 6; Road: 6
Miss: Stanford, Washington
Nonconference schedule
TBA Northern Arizona
9/8 Illinois
9/15 at Missouri

Skinny: Missing Stanford and Washington is favorable. Can Todd Graham go 2-1 with this nonconference slate? It would certainly bolster fan interest. Three of final four weeks on the road.

California
Home: 7; Road: 5
Miss: Arizona, Colorado
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 Nevada
Sept. 8 Southern Utah
Sept. 15 at Ohio State

Skinny: Not a good schedule, even with seven home games in newly renovated Memorial Stadium. The Bears play 12 consecutive weeks with no bye. At Ohio State then at USC on back-to-back weekends is tough. Big Game is on Oct. 20, which is way-early. On the plus side: Divisional games with Oregon, Washington and Stanford are at home.

Colorado
Home: 6; Road: 6
Miss: California, Oregon State
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 Colorado State (Denver)
Sept. 8 Sacramento State
Sept. 15 at Fresno State

Skinny: Sets up for a 3-0 start in nonconference play, which is good for a team trying to get its legs under it. Further, it's a soft landing into the conference schedule before the double-whammy trips to USC and Oregon on consecutive weekends.

Oregon
Home: 7; Road: 5
Miss: UCLA, Utah
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 Arkansas State
Sept. 8 Fresno State
Sept. 15 Tennessee Tech

Skinny: Oregon will be a heavy favorite in every game, other than the trip to USC. Start with four in a row at home, but then play five of eight on road, including three of the final four.

Oregon State
Home: 7; Road: 5
Miss: USC, Colorado
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 Nicholls State
Sept. 8 Wisconsin
Oct. 13 at BYU

Skinny: Missing USC is a bonus, but the Beavers have had plenty of success against the Trojans, particularly in Corvallis, so maybe not. The schedule is backloaded, so the Beavers need to get off to a fast start, which isn't typical, even when things are going well.

Stanford
Home: 6; Road: 6
Miss: Arizona State, Utah
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 San Jose State
Sept. 8 Duke
Oct. 13 at Notre Dame

Skinny: Play host to USC in the Pac-12 opener on Sept. 15, but the road schedule is tough with Washington, Notre Dame, California and Oregon. Three of last four on the road.

UCLA
Home: 7; Road: 5
Miss: Oregon, Washington
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 at Rice
Sept. 8 Nebraska
Sept. 15 Houston

Skinny: Should be a 2-1 start with the nonconference schedule, though you can't take anything for granted with the Bruins. Good to have seven games in the Rose Bowl, but the last two are tough: USC and Stanford (nope, USC-UCLA isn't the season-finale for the first time since 2002).

USC
Home: 6; Road: 6
Miss: Oregon State, Washington State
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 Hawaii
Sept. 8 vs. Syracuse (@ E. Rutherford, N.J.)
Nov. 24 Notre Dame

Skinny: Just like Oregon, the Trojans will be heavy favorites in every game other than the visit from the Ducks on Nov. 3. After the opener against Hawaii, four of the next five are on the road, with tricky tests at Stanford, Utah and Washington. The Trojans will need to be road warriors, though Notre Dame is coming to LA this year.

Utah
Home: 6; Road: 6
Miss: Oregon, Stanford
Nonconference schedule
Aug. 30 (Thu.) Northern Colorado
Sept. 8 at Utah State
Sept. 15 Brigham Young

Skinny: The misses again should (again) help. Might the Utes be 4-0 when they play host to USC on Thursday night, Oct. 4? The schedule seems to set up for success.

Washington
Home: 6; Road: 6
Miss: Arizona State, UCLA
Noneconference schedule
Sept. 1 San Diego State
Sept. 8 at LSU
Sept. 15 Portland State

Skinny: That trip to LSU will be a doozy -- the Tigers are likely the preseason No. 1 -- but a 2-1 start seems certain. The early conference schedule is brutal: Stanford, Oregon and USC in a row. Three of final four on the road.

Washington State
Home: 7; Road: 5
Miss: Arizona, USC
Nonconference schedule
Sept. 1 at BYU
Sept. 8 Eastern Washington
Sept. 15 at UNLV

Skinny: If the Cougars could win at BYU to open the Mike Leach Era, that would be huge. Missing USC is nice. The Cougars get Oregon in Seattle. Back-to-back road trips to Stanford and Utah are tough, but there's a bye the week before. Two of the final three are in Pullman, including the Apple Cup. November games in Pullman can be a challenge.

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