|Daily Blog •January 11, 2013|
Yesterday the Pac-12 officially announced their schedules for 2013 and PhilSteele.com is your home for all of the current updates for 2013 schedules and beyond!
The Pac-12 often plays some of the most difficult schedules in the country year to year as not only do they play a 9-game conference schedule but they also routinely play tough teams in non-conference play (USC and UCLA are only 2 of 3 teams in the entire country to never play a FCS school in their history).
Strength of schedule often plays a heavy role when I pick my conference standings in my annual College Football Preview, which is now just 144 days away from being released on the newsstands (June 4th) and the Pac-12 is no different. With a 9-game conference schedule, half of the teams in the conference get an extra home game, which could spell the difference between a winning and losing season.
When glancing over the schedules yesterday a couple of things jumped out to me and the first being that Oregon and Stanford will play in arguably the biggest game of the Pac-12 season on a Thursday in November (7th) with the Ducks visiting Stanford. That could possibly be the biggest game for an ESPN Thursday Night since it has routinely become the norm the last 20 years.
Oregon and Stanford were clearly the top 2 teams from the Pac-12 last year and figure to be the top 2 teams this year. I found it interesting that no team in the conference will skip both teams in 2013 but there are a few teams of note that miss one or the other as USC does not play Oregon, Arizona misses Stanford and Arizona State does not play the Ducks.
Meanwhile on the flip side, Colorado has been the weakest team of the Pac-12 and it should be noted that Washington State and Stanford avoid them this year in what many would pencil in as an automatic win.
Individual Team Thoughts:
The Wildcats avoid Stanford but have to play 5 Pac-12 road games including games against Washington, USC (on a Thurs Night) and finish up at Arizona State. Non-conference play is among the weakest of all Pac-12 teams as their hardest game is a road trip to UNLV.
The Sun Devils avoid Oregon and have five Pac-12 home games including games against USC, Washington, Oregon State and Arizona (all bowl teams from last year) that could make them a surprise pick for many to win the Pac-12 South. Their non-conference schedule is one of the toughest with a home game against Wisconsin preceding a road trip to Stanford and also a game against Notre Dame in Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
Sonny Dykes did not catch many breaks in his first season in Berkeley with road trips to Oregon, UCLA and Stanford in Pac-12 play (5 Conf AG’s) not to mention home games against 10-3 Northwestern and 12-0 Ohio State in non-conference play. They could realistically play as many as eight teams (NW, OSU, Oreg, UCLA, Oreg St, Wash, USC, Stan) that could show up in preseason Top 25 publications.
The Buffaloes will try to rebound from arguably their worst season in school history but they do have the right guy to do it in Mike MacIntyre from San Jose St. They do avoid Stanford but unfortunately also avoid Washington State, which was their only win of the 2012 season and must play five conference road games. In non-conference play they get Colorado St, Central Arkansas and Fresno State, which should allow them to top last season’s win total.
The Ducks, who figure to be in everyone’s preseason Top 5 play only four conference away games but one of them is the key game at Stanford. They get the Civil War game at home, avoid USC and get rebuilding Tennessee and Nevada teams under 1st-year head coaches in non-conference action. Add it all up and the season probably will come down to one game in deciding whether the Ducks make it to just another BCS game or play for it all.
Coming off a 9-win season, expectations will be high for the Beavers in 2013. The schedule is no cake-walk as they must play five conference away games. Their last five games are simply brutal as they play Stanford, then five days later host USC, then play at Arizona St, Washington and at Oregon. A positive is that the non-conference slate is manageable with a tricky road game at San Diego St being the toughest.
The Cardinal along with Oregon figure to be the favorites in the Pac-12 and why not as they have five Pac-12 home games including the all-important one vs the Ducks in November. Their road games include Washington St and Utah with the toughest coming against USC nine days after the Oregon game. In non-conference play they host Notre Dame after a rough stretch in conference play to close out the season which should have BCS implications much like the past couple of meetings have had.
The Bruins may have the toughest schedule out of the whole Pac-12 as they have to face both Stanford and Oregon on the road in back-to-back weeks. They also have a road date at rival USC and all together they have five Pac-12 road games and skip out on Washington State one of the weaker teams in the conference. In non-conference action they have road date at Nebraska and clearly it will be tough for Jim Mora, Jr to duplicate this past year’s success.
In my ESPN Insider Blog, I listed five teams on the rise for 2013 and the Trojans were one of them. The schedule released yesterday further cemented that thought as USC has five conference home games including one against Stanford and avoids Oregon. One of their Pac-12 away games is at Colorado while they also get cross-town rival UCLA at home. Their non-conference slate is manageable starting off with a trip to the Islands against Hawaii on August 29th and they have a couple extra days to prep to a road trip to South Bend in October. Add it up and the Trojans should bounce back in 2013.
In their first two years since joining the Pac-12, Utah has yet to face either Stanford or Oregon a single time but this year they will face both as they host Stanford on October 12th and travel to Oregon on November 16th. They also must travel to USC and Arizona and while they do get five Pac-12 home games it will be difficult as Oregon State, UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State (all teams who won 8 or more games LY) are among them. Also noteworthy is that they play at BYU in what will be the final meeting of the Holy War for awhile.
The Huskies will be one of the most experienced teams in the country next year and will play just four conference away games. However, they will be against Stanford, Arizona St, UCLA and Oregon St (all teams who won 8 or more games LY). They re-open Husky stadium with a big non-conference game vs Boise St and will also host Oregon this year and avoid USC.
No one in the country next year may start off with two tougher back-to-back road games than Mike Leach’s Cougars who must travel to Auburn then USC. Their Pac-12 schedule does feature just five away games as well including the Apple Cup at Washington. An interesting period is the fact from October 20 thru November 15th, (26 days) the Cougars play only one game (Arizona St on Halloween Night).
Some of my upcoming blogs in the next week will include more schedule analysis, NFL Draft Analysis and my annual Coach of the Year Award. Make sure you’re checking out PhilSteele.com every day in the off-season for not only my daily blog but also updates involving everything in FB action!