Jack Follman’s Nonconference Pac-12 Football Slates Ranked

How the games stack up in terms of difficulty when plugged into each team’s early schedule

Posted on February 7, 2022

  By Jack Follman, SportsPac12

We’ve looked at the best nonconference games on the Pac-12 slate in 2022 and there are some good ones.

Now it’s time to look at how those games stack up in terms of difficulty when plugged into each team’s overall three-game, nonconference schedule.

The days of cupcake nonconference schedules in the Conference are pretty much over, outside of one school (more on that later). Here’s how the difficulty of the 2022 Pac-12 nonconference slates stack up.

Be sure to also check out my rankings of Nonconference and Conference Games.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12

1. Oregonvs Georgia (Atlanta), Eastern Washington, BYU

The Ducks will firmly be in College Football Playoff contention if they can make it through their first three games unscathed.

Beating the defending national champions in Atlanta (basically at Georgia) is a nearly-impossible tall task.

But the Bulldogs will be a bit like Ohio State was in early-2021 when Oregon knocked them off in Columbus—ultra-talented and well-coached, but replacing a ton of talent and experience, especially in their front seven.

The sneaky challenge here no matter what happens in Atlanta is playing a tough BYU team just two weeks after the Georgia road trip.

Those colossal nonconference games can take a lot out of a team and the Ducks will need to be sharp or they could risk either tanking their stock after a big Georgia win with a loss or going into conference play 1-2.

2. StanfordColgate, at Notre Dame, BYU

Notre Dame should be a Top 10 team this year and a trip to South Bend in October shouldn’t be fun.

Closing with BYU gives the Cardinal a tough 1-2 punch as the Cougars will likely have a lot to play for and be pretty strong again under Kilani Sitake.

3. USCRice, Fresno State, Notre Dame

Closing with a tough Notre Dame is obviously challenge number one here for Lincoln Riley and company. Fresno State is a sneaky tough Number Two though.

The Bulldogs are coached by Jeff Tedford and return key players such as QB Jake Haener, who led to them to a defeat of UCLA and nearly taking down Oregon on the road last year.

4. Utahat Florida, Southern Utah, San Diego St

Opening in The Swamp is a challenge of epic proportions, even if the Gators won’t be highly-ranked the way they would in most years in their first game under Billy Napier.

Hosting San Diego State two weeks later adds a tough challenge as the Utes try to avenge their loss in 2021 against one of the peskiest Pac-12 nonconference opponents in recent history.

5. ColoradoTCU, at Air Force, at Minnesota

Colorado has a super hard-to-evaluate schedule.

While they don’t have a juggernaut like Georgia, Michigan State, Notre Dame, or Wisconsin on the schedule, they have two really good B+ games, with one on the road, as well as a mid-major road game.

They get points for not having a true cupcake game and possibly the best Number Two game on the schedule with whichever you’d consider that—TCU or at Minnesota.

6. CalUC Davis, UNLV, at Notre Dame

This is all about Cal going to South Bend. It’s a big challenge and almost no one will predict them to win.

7. Washington StateIdaho, at Wisconsin, Colorado St

The headline here is Wisconsin in week two against the perennially-tough Badgers. Colorado State is an okay Number Two game for the Cougars.

Washington football pac-12

8. WashingtonKent St, Portland State, Michigan St

This one is all about what should be a Top 10 Michigan State team coming to Seattle.

It’s a massive game in Seattle and the biggest nonconference game there in more than a decade.

9. Arizonaat San Diego St, Mississippi St, North Dakota St

Arizona’s slate is comparable to Colorado’s, where there isn’t a Top 25 team the Wildcats play, but they get a really tough Number Two and have a solid Number One against a Power 5 conference opponent.

Bonus points for having to take on NDSU.

10. Arizona StateNorthern Arizona, at Oklahoma St, E. Michigan

Another one-hit-wonder. The Sun Devils get a tough game at Oklahoma State that’s going to make or break their nonconference schedule.

11. Oregon StateBoise St, at Fresno St, Montana St

The Beavers avoid power conference teams but get two tough Mountain West matchups.

Always tough Boise State comes to town and they have to play at Fresno State with the aforementioned Tedford and Haener.

12. UCLABowling Green, Alabama St, South Alabama

I’m not sure if someone canceled on the Bruins but they have an all-time soft nonconference schedule.

This better be three wins for them, setting them to easily get to a bowl in 2022.

—More from Jack Follman—