Power Ranking Non-Conference Schedules in the Pac-12 South
1. USC Trojans: Aug. 30, Fresno State Bulldogs (11-2); Sept. 13, Boston College Eagles (7-6); Nov. 29, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4).
Why: The Trojans will see a very different team than they did in the Las Vegas Bowl, as Fresno State enters without its top players on offense. Boston College is no easy challenge and Notre Dame could be poised to make a run of its own.
2. Utah Utes: Aug. 30, Idaho State Bengals (3-9)*; Sept. 6, Fresno State Bulldogs (11-2); Sept. 20, Michigan Wolverines (7-6).
Why: Michigan took a step back in 2013 under Brady Hoke, but should take two steps forward this upcoming season. Utah will have its hands full.
3. Arizona Wildcats: Aug. 30, UNLV Rebels (7-6); Sept. 6, UTSA Roadrunners (7-5); Sept. 13, Nevada Wolf Pack (4-8).
Why: Rich Rod will face two bowl eligible teams from a year ago and what should be an improved Wolf Pack.
4. UCLA Bruins: Aug. 30, Virginia Cavaliers (2-10); Sept. 6, Memphis Tigers (3-9); Sept. 13, Texas Longhorns (8-5).
Why: Both Virginia and Memphis are expected to be slightly improved, but Texas is obviously one of the more important games on UCLA’s entire schedule.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils: Aug. 28, Weber State (2-10)*; Sept. 6, New Mexico Lobos (3-9); Nov. 8, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4).
Why: Arizona State won’t play a quality non-conference opponent until November.
6. Colorado Buffaloes: Aug. 30, Colorado State Rams (8-6); Sept. 6, UMass Minutemen (1-11); Sept. 20, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (1-11).
Why: When two of your non-conference opponents combined for a 2-22 record in 2013, you know you’ve got some lighter work ahead. Three wins here would give Mike MacIntyre’s second-year squad some confidence heading into Pac-12 play.
*denotes FCS team
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