Pac-12 Football Schedule: Best 2013 Non-Conference Games

Jonathan Daniel

It won't get better than these dozen foes for Pac-12 opponents.

12. Washington vs. Illinois (Chicago) 9/14

An interesting matchup as the Huskies should be strong, but have been atrocious away from home under Steve Sarkisian and will need to win to bring any kind of momentum into Pac-12 play.

11. Utah at BYU 9/21

The Holy War is always very, very interesting and this year should be no different as the Utes are trying to find some kind of way to get back to respectability and won a harrowing game last year in Salt Lake City.

10. San Jose State at Stanford 9/7

It was a huge shock when the Spartans took the Cardinal down to the wire in last season's opener in San Jose, but it turned out that it just meant that the Spartans had a good team in 2012. The Cardinal might be even better in 2013 than they were in 2012, but this will be the first test they have of the season.

9. Ohio State at Cal 9/14

This looks like a very tough game for the Bears on paper as they won only three games last year and the Buckeyes are a preseason national title contender. However, there was nothing to suggest that the Bears should have made last year's matchup of the two in Columbus a good one and they did, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that they could do it again, this time in Berkeley.

8. Northwestern at Cal 8/31

Sonny Dykes gets right into the thick of things in the Bears' opener as they host one of the toughest teams in the country that will be a preseason Top 25 team. There aren't high hopes for the Bears this season, but Pac-12 teams have played Big Ten teams well recently and it is in Berkeley, so this could be a potential upset.

7. Tennessee at Oregon 9/14

Tennessee is a long ways away from the days when they were a truly elite program, but they are still a good SEC program heading out to play one of the Pac-12's elite teams so it will be very interesting. Also, this will be everyone's first chance to see the Mark Helfrich Ducks play against a talented team.

6. Wisconsin at Arizona State 9/14

This will truly be the Sun Devils' first chance to make a splash nationally. Both of these teams will likely be right around the edge of the Top 25 when they kick off in Tempe, making what should be a very exciting affair and one of the biggest games played in Sun Devil Stadium in a while.

5. Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (Arlington, TX) 10/5

The first of the Pac-12's matchups with the Irish will take place at the Cowboys' stadium and could be the Sun Devils' chance to truly make a national splash. The Irish will be very strong, but the Sun Devils might be the most underrated team in the Pac-12 and not having to travel to South Bend could be a major advantage for ASU.

4. Boise State at Washington 8/31

You almost never see any kind of immediate rematches in college football, let alone non-conference ones. The Huskies lost a heartbreaker to the Broncos back in December and will open 2013, and the remodeled Husky Stadium in a game that they absolutely have to win if they hope to have a breakout season in 2013.

3. UCLA at Nebraska 9/14

Winning a barnburner against the Huskers in the Rose Bowl in September last season somewhat announced the Bruins' return relevancy last season and now a trip to Lincoln will provide the chance to possibly show that they can take it to the next level. Both of these teams will likely be ranked in the same region of the national polls (15-25), so expect a very, even, hard-fought game in a crazed environment.

2. USC at Notre Dame 10/19

Almost always one of the top non-conference games in the Pac-12 year-after-year, this one will likely be a must-win for Lane Kiffin. There may not be a ton of buzz around USC right now, but if they start the year strong, this could easily be a marquee game come October and regardless, the Trojans have played the Irish very, very well in recent history.

1. Notre Dame at Stanford 11/30

A rematch of one of last season's best and ultimately most important games that is also a rivalry game should make for some must see TV. Throw in that both teams should be preseason Top 10 teams, and this game could have serious national championship implications for one, or both teams.

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