It’s tough in these dark days between the Super Bowl and March Madness, so let’s brighten it up by looking at what should be the best Pac-12 non-conference games in 2017!
The games which didn’t make the cut show how great this year’s non-conference slate is. These are some great games.
September 2 - Western Michigan at USC
September 9 - Houston at Arizona
September 9 - San Diego State at Arizona State
September 16 - Oregon at Wyoming
September 16 - UCLA at Memphis
12. Cal at North Carolina - September 2
Justin Wilcox gets a major challenge right out of the gate as they have to travel across the country and take on North Carolina. The Bears shouldn’t be very good in 2017, especially in their opener, but the Tar Heels lose a lot of talent and I’m sure Wilcox will have his team amped up to make an opening statement, so this could end up being a good one. Regardless, our first look at Wilcox’ Bears and a new quarterback.
11. Mississippi at Cal - September 16
The SEC comes out to Pac-12 country! Wait, it’s an above average Mississippi team getting what probably will be the conference’s worst team in Berkeley? Well hey! The SEC is coming out to Pac-12 country!
10. Arizona State at Texas Tech - September 16
This is a very fun match-up of lower-middle power conference teams in the southwestern US. This is huge for both teams as they will likely have to scratch and claw for a bowl bid and they should be very evenly matched.
9. Minnesota at Oregon State - September 9
The Beavers improved in 2016 and are setting up for a potential bowl run in 2017. This is their first big test and it is one they can pass against an evenly-matched Big Ten team in what should be a solid match-up.
8. Stanford at San Diego State - September 16
A very intriguing match-up here. I hate Pac-12 teams playing at lower-conference teams and many have fallen into the trap of heading to San Diego and getting smacked. The Cardinal should be better than that in 2017 and San Diego State probably doesn’t have their best team, but they will have to show up in this game. This is a major trap game for Stanford as it is after their road game at USC and before a home showdown with UCLA.
7. Boise State at Washington State - September 9
An underrated Northwest rivalry which ended up going down to the wire last year and the nephew of Mark Rypien gets to play in Pullman against Luke Falk. This should also be a nice match-up between teams who will likely be fringe Top 25 teams.
6. Notre Dame at Stanford - November 25
Notre Dame has to be better in 2017 and should be good enough to challenge the Cardinal in a final game that probably won’t have Playoff implications this year, but could.
5. USC at Notre Dame - October 21
Again, Notre Dame has to be better in 2017. The Trojans may be in the middle of a Playoff chase when they have to head to South Bend and take on their rival in a game that will likely have the nation’s attention.
4. Nebraska at Oregon - September 9
The Ducks played a classic against Mike Riley last year in Lincoln which ultimately started the unraveling of the program and now they get a chance for revenge, in Eugene, with a new coach. Both teams should be fringe Top 25 teams looking to rise up out of the middle of their conference and contend for a division title and it will be Mike Riley’s first game back in Oregon, so a lot of great storylines here.
3. Utah at BYU - September 9
The Holy War is back and it pits two borderline Top 25 teams who hate each other facing off early in the season with any chance of working their way into the national conversation likely hinging on winning this game or not.
2. Texas A&M at UCLA - September 2
These two programs are so similar to me and it makes me love this match-up of power conference underachievers who recruit well and are located in fertile talent hot spots, but just can’t ever seem to put it together. I also love Josh Rosen coming back for a huge challenge right out of the gate in a game between teams who should come in hovering right around the edge of the Top 25.
- Texas at USC - September 16
We get a rematch of one of the greatest games in sports more than 10 years later in The Coliseum. Texas may not yet be up to the task of taking on what should be a Top 10 USC team, but they should be a Top 25 team with the talent to make a game of this. A truly exciting non-conference match-up.