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College Hotline - Pac-12 football: Rankings the 2016 schedules

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    The Hotline’s series looking ahead to the season continues (after a brief delay) with an examination of the schedules.

    We’re talking about the full-season schedules, not merely the non-conference lineups, although those opponents were factored into the ultimate calculation for each team.

    Please note I: The rankings reflect my view that the North is the tougher of the two divisions.

    Please note II: This exercise was really about sorting Nos. 2-12, because No. 1 is as obvious as a goofy gray and red elephant mascot.

    Links to previous installments in the Hotline series:

    Post-spring practice story lines.
    Quarterback comfort levels. (Written before the news that WSU’s Peyton Bender is ineligible.)
    All-conference projections.
    Kickoff times and a Comcast breakthrough.

    Here we go, from easiest to toughest:

    12. Utah: Only one roadie against a projected contender (UCLA). All the other tough games are in Salt Lake City (USC, Washington, Oregon and Brigham Young), and the Utes don’t play either Stanford or Washington State. The manageable lineup could be the edge Utah needs to contend for the South.

    11. Arizona: The toughest non-conference challenge, by far, is Brigham Young on a neutral field (Glendale). The Wildcats don’t play Oregon, and they get Washington, USC, Stanford and Arizona State at home. Also: No Thursday games and a true bye. (The conference owed ‘em one after the 12-weeks-in-a-row schedule last year.)

    10 Washington: A cupcake non-conference lineup (Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State, all in Seattle), which is more than a tad disappointing given how good the Huskies should be. UW also misses UCLA, but trips to Eugene, SLC and Pullman keep this schedule out of the bottom slots.

    9. UCLA: Why would a lineup that includes trips to Brigham Young and Texas A&M only rate No. 9? Because of the league portion of the schedule: The Bruins don’t play Washington or Oregon, and they get Stanford, Utah and USC at home. Bottom line: There’s only one roadie against a projected contender (Washington State).

    8. Washington State: Mulled the Cougars’ ranking relative to Arizona State and UCLA and ended up with them in the middle. They play Boise State and Stanford on the road, but USC isn’t on the schedule and most of the toughest games are in Pullman (i.e., UCLA, Oregon and UW). Put another way: For a rising program hoping to make a run at the North title, the schedule could be worse.

    7. Arizona State: The toughest non-conference matchup, against Texas Tech in Tempe, isn’t all that tough, and the Sun Devils miss Stanford. But the lineup of league road games is worthy of a middle-of-the-Pac ranking, to say the least: Washington, Oregon, USC and (because it’s a rivalry) Arizona.

    6. Oregon State. The Beavers miss USC, which is good. But they play Stanford, Washington and UCLA on the road, which is bad. Very, very bad. And the non-conference lineup has two likely losses in Minnesota (road) and Boise State (home). If Oregon State doesn’t handle Idaho State in Week 2, that first victory could be a long time coming.

    5. Cal: Arguably the most fan-friendly home schedule in the league with Texas, Utah, Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Stanford all paying a visit to Berkeley. UT should continue its ascent under Charlie Strong, and the trip to San Diego State will be vastly more difficult than it might seem. The great unknown is the Hawaii game in Sydney — not opponent but the trip itself, coming so early and requiring all the travel.

    4. Oregon: It’s not 1976, ’86, ’96 or even ’06, so the trip to Lincoln feels challenging but hardly ominous. (Okay, maybe it’s ’06.) The Ducks miss UCLA but play Utah, Washington State and USC on the road. Add Stanford and Washington at home, and the schedule would be daunting even for a proven quarterback, something the Ducks definitely do not have.

    3. Colorado: Gave serious thought to slotting CU in the 2-hole, largely because of the presence of the Pac-12’s toughest non-conference road game: The Sept. 17 trip to the Big House. Add Oregon, Stanford and USC on the road, plus Colorado State on a neutral, and the Buffs have a momentous challenge in store. The good news … the only good news … is they miss Washington.

    2. Stanford: If it’s an even year, the Cardinal’s road lineup is unforgiving: Pasadena, South Bend, Seattle and Eugene. Oh, and don’t forget about home dates with USC and Washington State. The bye is early (Week 2) and the Cardinal plays a Friday roadie (UW) after a Saturday roadie (UCLA). Schedule would be even tougher if Kansas State coach Bill Snyder had one of his better teams, although it still wouldn’t be No. 1 on this list.

    1. USC: Alabama on a neutral field; Stanford, Washington, Utah and UCLA on the road; Notre Dame and Oregon at home … it all adds up to the toughest schedule in nation. (Dare you to find a close second.) The best that can be said for the Trojans? They get two extra days before Oregon comes to town. (Yipee!) October is manageable, September and November are absolute hell. Each time I look at it, I have the same reaction: Holy #@&%!


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    by Jon Wilner

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