Posted on February 4, 2022
It’s the dark days of the offseason.
Signing day is over and we are a ways away from spring football (which honestly isn’t even that exciting).
Know what is exciting? The 2022 Pac-12 nonconference slate.
The 2022 season is going to be huge for the Conference, with Oregon, USC, and Washington all breaking in new coaches with new momentum and Utah looking like they can continue to stay on top of the conference after an official breakout season in 2021.
There’s some major nonconference match-ups early on with Pac-12 teams having a great chance to make a splash and change the narrative about the conference moving forward.
Let’s look at the best games.
1. Georgia vs. Oregon – September 3
Did the universe know that Georgia would be defending national champions and their defensive coordinator would be coaching his first game as Oregon’s head coach?
The Ducks get a huge challenge here with the Bulldogs, especially in breaking in a new coaching staff and with a new starting quarterback.
This game holds similarities to their game at Ohio State in 2021, though.
The Bulldogs are still super talented, but they lose a ton of experience and the door is open here for the Ducks to grab a massive win to kick off the Lanning era.
2. Utah at Florida – September 3
Florida is down and should be unranked in this game which takes some of the luster off what could have been an even bigger marquee matchup.
The good news here for the Utes is that with Florida down, this opens up a huge opportunity for Utah to grab a big win in an incredible venue against a blue blood that could easily be ranked later in the year.
A win here keeps Utah in the CFP conversation at the start of the season.
3. Notre Dame at USC – November 26
This rivalry will get a lot more interesting if the Lincoln Riley train truly takes off at USC.
I don’t think things will come together so quickly at USC, but I think this game will be a good one with USC at least having a solid enough team to make this game and possibly nationally relevant.
4. BYU at Oregon – September 17
BYU basically won the Pac-12 last year. Easily, actually.
This is a lot bigger game than expected a couple of years ago with the Ducks having a huge chance to either show the Pac-12 and Oregon is heading in the right direction…or not.
This one will be especially interesting as such a big game with Oregon just two weeks off of playing Georgia in the Pac-12 nonconference game of the year.
5. Michigan State at Washington – September 17
Michigan State is the biggest nonconference opponent to venture to Husky Stadium in quite some time, providing a huge early test for Kalen Deboer.
The Spartans could be a Top 10 team when they come to Seattle, and should be a very formidable foe for a Washington team trying to recover from bottoming out in 2021.
However, the Spartans aren’t a blue blood and feel like a team Washington might be able to compete with at home.
6. Arizona State at Oklahoma State – September 10
All of that momentum Arizona State and Jayden Daniels had after the 2020 season is gone.
The Sun Devils aren’t dead, though, and if they can get an early road win here over what should be a ranked power conference team, they can start to potentially build up to be a contender in the South.
This will be a serious challenge, though.
7. Washington State at Wisconsin – September 10
The Cougars get a big nonconference game against a power opponent to bounce back from disappointment in the Sun Bowl.
Wisconsin should be strong and it’s a tough environment, yet Wisconsin’s style seems to open them up to more dynamic offenses competing with them.
Jake Dickert and company have a chance to make an early splash here.
8. Cal at Notre Dame – September 17
The Bears get a huge challenge with what should be a highly-ranked Notre Dame team in South Bend.
Huge opportunity here for program exposure and to make a mark but it’s a tough, tough game for them early in the season while replacing Chase Garbers.
9. San Diego State at Utah – September 17
That Utah lost to San Diego State early in 2021 was a huge blackeye for the Pac-12, which I think most people forgot about.
The Utes need to win this game in Salt Lake City against a program that always seems to play well against Pac-12 schools.
Like Oregon against BYU, having this game two weeks after playing at Florida is a challenging wrinkle.
10. Boise State at Oregon State – September 3
Boise State is always a good matchup for Pac-12 schools.
It’s a nice number one nonconference game for Jonathan Smith and the Beavers because it’s a big, but winnable game.
Other Games to Watch
TCU at Colorado – September 2
Mississippi State at Arizona – September 10
Colorado at Minnesota – September 17
Stanford at Notre Dame – October 15
BYU at Stanford – November 26
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