To test the difficulty of a college football schedule, you have to look at two major things -- non-conference showdowns and in-conference road games. Taking both of those factors into account, here is our list of the 5 Hardest Pac-12 Football Schedules For 2015.
Non-Conference Slate: Texas A&M (in Houston), FCS Cal Poly, New Mexico
Tricky Pac-12 Road Games: UCLA, Cal
The Sun Devils' season opener against Texas A&M is billed as a "neutral site game," which is ludicrous considering Houston's NRG Stadium is 99 miles away from the Aggies' home stadium, Kyle Field. The in-conference slate is a little easier, with a road trip to UCLA standing out as the biggest test on the Pac-12 schedule.
Non-Conference Slate: FCS Grambling State, San Diego State, at Texas
Tricky Pac-12 Road Games: UCLA, Oregon
Cal's true road trip to Texas gives them the nod over Arizona State, especially considering that Texas has the biggest boom/bust potential in the Big 12 of any team not from Oklahoma. The other problem? A road game at Oregon where Cal hasn't picked up a W since 2007.
3. Oregon Ducks
Non-Conference Slate: FCS Eastern Washington, at Michigan State, Georgia State
Tricky Pac-12 Road Games: Arizona State
We considered ranking Oregon higher due to their marquee Week 2 showdown in East Lansing against Heisman hopeful Connor Cook and the Spartans, along with a home showdown against an Eastern Washington squad who finished 11-3 last year. However, the in-conference slate is full of road cupcakes (except the Sun Devils), giving Oregon the Autzen edge -- and that's a BIG edge -- in most of their critical Pac-12 tilts.
2. USC Trojans
Non-Conference Slate: Arkansas State, Idaho, at Notre Dame
Tricky Pac-12 Road Games: Arizona State, Oregon, Cal
USC hasn't won in South Bend since 2011, adding some weight to their midseason trip to face a "who the heck knows" Notre Dame squad. The real (bleep) is the Trojans' road schedule. Travelling to Arizona State and Cal is never easy, but we're focused on the epic showdown in Eugene against Oregon on November 21st. That'll be must-see TV and a potential season-defining moment for USC.
Non-Conference Slate: at Northwestern, UCF, Notre Dame
Tricky Pac-12 Road Games: USC
There are subtle differences between Stanford and USC's schedule that gives the Cardinal a slight edge in difficulty. Firstly, that season-opening trip to Northwestern is more than just a trap game -- it's a red flag, hands-waving potential disaster against a VERY fast Wildcats squad. Stanford does get Notre Dame at home, but they also land UCF who is arguably the best non-Power Five squad in the nation. Add in a road trip to face the aforementioned Pac-12 South favorite Trojans and this could be a slate full of landmines for the Cardinal.Back to the NCAA Newsfeed