Non-conference slates aren't nearly as exciting as they used to be, but that doesn't mean that it is all bad as the Pac-12 still has some marquee match-ups coming up in the next few weeks and peppered though out the season as well. The Pac-12 still has some major showdowns with contenders from the Big Ten and Big 12 as well as some solid tests against the Mountain West and many other conferences on the 2014 schedule. How the Pac-12 performs in these games will be especially integral this season considering that it is the first year of the College Football Playoff and with that in mind, it is a good time to look at how the Pac-12 has played against college football's other conferences in recent history.
Please note, that I counting teams as what conference they play in this year, not which one they played in at the time and not counting any of Colorado or Utah's games before they joined the conference or any non-conference games played against them before their addition.
Here is a breakdown of how the Pac-12 has performed against the other conferences organized by how well they have done, along with speculating on this season's match-ups.
Sun Belt 17-0
Primarily bolstered by poor Idaho's migration to the Sun Belt, the Pac-12 has obliterated the conference. If Idaho and New Mexico State remain in the conference, the Pac-12 will likely continue to dominate the shiny belt for the foreseeable future.
Georgia State at Washington 9/20: The Pac-12 should continue their domination of the Sun Belt when maybe FBS' worst team heads up to Seattle.
Conference USA 7-0
Maybe no conference, well other than the WAC, has been gutted more by realignment than our nation's conference. The conference is now full of pretty much nothing but can of corn games for the Pac-12 that they have done exceptionally well in.
Arizona at UTSA 9/4: I would pick Arizona to win, but this is a major trap game for the Wildcats, playing on the road against Larry Coker's team that could easily win the Conference USA West. Upsetting the Wildcats would make me think of UTSA as more than just the school where I'm pretty sure Tim Riggins played for a few weeks.
The Pac-12 rarely ever plays the MAC, but when they have in recent history, it has always gone the Pac-12's way.
Colorado at UMass 9/6: UMass has been one of FBS' worst teams ever since they joined and the Buffs should roll, but you never know with a still-struggling program like Colorado heading all the way across the country to play.
Not perfect, but domination
I have long harped on the ACC regularly being ranked ahead of the Pac-12 and this is great evidence for my argument, the Pac-12 has owned the ACC as of late. There haven't been a ton of marquee/even match-ups between the two conferences as of late, but the Pac-12 is still almost always walking away with victories in the series.
UCLA at Virginia 8/30: The Bruins are national title contenders and the Cavaliers are perennial big conference punching bag, but traveling all the way across the country could be tricky for the Bruins.
USC at Boston College 9/13: A similar match-up to the one above, a strong Pac-12 power taking on a ACC cellar dweller should be an easy win for the Pac-12.
Mountain West 62-26
The Pac-12 plays the Mountain West out-of-conference much more than any other conference for a number of reasons that make sense and the Pac-12 has taken care of their little brother of the mountains much in the way that they should and plucked away one of their best programs as well. With that said, I will admit that the Mountain West does do well for a smaller conference against the Pac-12 when they play, especially programs like Boise State and Utah, oh wait, nevermind.
Colorado vs. Colorado State 8/29: Always a tight one, the Buffs and Rams are fighting right on that border of bowl eligibility line and this is a must-win for the Buffs if they want to show that they are still improving under Mike MacIntyre.
Washington at Hawaii 8/30: The Huskies have to break in a new quarterback in their opener, but the Warriors have become a cushy opponent in the past few seasons.
Fresno State at USC 8/30: The Trojans wrapped up 2013 by blowing out the Bulldogs in Las Vegas, that shouldn't change in Los Angeles in August.
Washington State at Nevada 9/5: The Wolfpack are regularly are very tough mid-major team and the game is in Reno, but I expect the Cougars to impress in Nevada.
Fresno State at Utah 9/6: The Bulldogs should be more of a challenge for the Utes than the Trojans, but they shouldn't be nearly as strong as they were in 2013 and I think the Utes should win.
Oregon State at Hawaii 9/6: Once again, Hawaii has simply become a fun road trip for Pac-12 teams. Prove me wrong Warriors, prove me wrong.
Arizona State at New Mexico 9/6: New Mexico has gotten better under Bob Davie, but they are still one of the worst teams in the Mountain West and the Sun Devils should roll.
Nevada at Arizona 9/13: Once again, Nevada is a good mid-major program, but the Wildcats should be fairly strong in 2014 and capable of winning comfortably.
Wyoming at Oregon 9/13: Yeah, the Ducks should win this one going away.
Hawaii at Colorado 9/20: The Buffs don't get to go to Honolulu, but they still probably get a comfortable win.
The newly formed AAC has still faced off with the Pac-12 a dozen times because it contains some old former mid-majors that the Pac-12 have done very well against.
Memphis at UCLA 9/6: The Tigers are steadily improving, but the Bruins are poised for big things this year and this will be a comfortable home opener.
Big Ten 35-21
The Pac-12 plays the Big Ten much more than any other major conference and uses their speed and progressive offenses in recent history to jet past their competition from the Midwest. Most importantly, the Pac-12 has dominated the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl the past 10 years.
Rutgers vs. Washington State 8/28: A major test for the Cougars against a new and kind of bizarre Big Ten addition that I think they should beat in a close one.
Cal at Northwestern 8/30: The Wildcats are far from unbeatable, but the Bears have a deep hole of struggles to get out of and I don't know if they will be able to do it half way across the country against a decent team.
Michigan State at Oregon 9/6: The best non-conference game of the season pits strength against speed in Eugene and if the Ducks' history against true power holds up, the Spartans will dominate.
Illinois at Washington 9/13: A game that no one is talking about. Seattle is a very tough place to play unless you are an elite team, which the Illini most certainly are not.
Utah at Michigan 9/20: The Wolverines are far from mighty, but so are the Utes so I expect Michigan to pull this one out at home.
The Pac-12's struggles against Notre Dame and success against Army, Navy and BYU balance out into an even record. To be fair, some teams, USC and Stanford, have actually done pretty well against Notre Dame.
Army at Stanford 9/13: Army has played the Cardinal actually pretty well recently, but they shouldn't this year.
Stanford at Notre Dame 10/4: The Cardinal have fought it out tooth and nail in recent seasons and I expect another close affair, with the Irish having the slight advantage being at home.
Notre Dame at Arizona State 11/8: The Sun Devils disappointed last season against the Irish, but they should do better this year in Tempe.
Notre Dame at USC 11/29: Steve Sarkisian's first chance against Notre Dame will be a fun one in LA that the Trojans should be able to pull out.
BYU at Cal 11/29: This will probably be the Bears quasi bowl game and I don't think it will go that well.
Not too bad, all things considered
The Pac-12 doesn't play the SEC very often, but when they do they play pretty well considering the SEC is god's gift to the world.
No 2014 games
Uh... yeah... not good...
Big 12 10-26
For whatever reason the Pac-12 has really struggled against the Big 12 in recent history. The Pac-12 hasn't done well in the Holiday Bowl and in simple out-of-conference games with the Big 12, but hopefully that will start changing.
UCLA vs. Texas 9/13: A major showdown, the Bruins need to win this one for themselves, and the Pac-12.