12. Colorado (Colorado State, Texas State, Northern Colorado)
The Buffs take a bit of a year off after playing some really tough non-conference slates in recent years which have featured Michigan. I had Washington at 12 first, but the Buffs never have to leave the state of Colorado and I would put Colorado State and Rutgers in the same ball park right now.
11. Washington (at Rutgers, Montana, Fresno State)
The Huskies have another laughably soft non-conference schedule this year which could create controversy again should they end up in the Playoff conversation again. They have to play at Rutgers this time though, so at least it is a little tougher.
10. Washington State (Montana State, Boise State, Nevada)
Big gap here as the Cougars have a very legit non-conference schedule. The headliner is Brett Rypien and Boise State coming to town for one of the biggest non-conference games ever played in Pullman. Getting Nevada to come up to Pullman is nice B game as well.
9. Arizona (Northern Arizona, Houston, at UTEP)
Arizona is stepping up their non-conference schedules again. Houston is basically a mid-level Big 12 now and they provide a very interesting challenge in Tucson. At UTEP is a really weird road game against a mid-level Conference USC team where the Wildcats will have to avoid an upset.
8. Oregon State (Portland State, Minnesota, at Colorado State)
A balanced slate for the Beavers. Minnesota is a borderline Top 25 team that is a perfect gauge opponent for the Beavers to show whether or not they are a bowl team and at Colorado State is a very, very tough B game.
7. Utah (North Dakota, at BYU, San Jose State)
This one is all about having to play the Holy War at Provo. The Cougars should be a very even challenge for the Utes. San Jose State at home isn’t a great B game, but it isn’t horrible.
6. Arizona State (New Mexico State, San Diego State, at Texas Tech)
Another little gap here in my opinion as we move to programs that have at least two genuinely challenging games. The Sun Devils basically have two games which I would list as good B+/A- games in San Diego State in Tempe and at Texas Tech.
5. UCLA (Texas A&M, Hawaii, at Memphis)
The Bruins have another tough non-conference schedule. They get what should be a Top 25 Texas A&M team in Pasadena and have to play at Memphis is a major trap game and a very tough B game.
4. Stanford (at Rice, at San Diego State, Notre Dame)
The Cardinal have a very strong and deep slate. At San Diego State is a borderline A game on top of their A game against a Notre Dame team which should be better in 2017 and at least very talented. Playing their C game on the road adds a nice boost.
3. Oregon (Southern Utah, Nebraska, at Wyoming)
The Ducks have very strong A and B games. They get their chance to get revenge on Mike Riley and the Top 25 Cornhuskers in Nebraska. At Wyoming is a very sneaky B games as it is on the road and the Cowboys might be the best team in the Mountain West this year and have a first round draft pick quarterback.
2. Cal (at North Carolina, Weber State, Mississippi)
The Bears basically have two A games. They open up at a good ACC opponent in North Carolina and also host a borderline Top 25 SEC team in Berkeley.
- USC (Western Michigan, Texas, at Notre Dame)
The Trojans have a simply nasty non-conference slate. Western Michigan won’t be the same this year as last year, but they might be the best team in the MAC. They get a Top 25 Texas team in The Coliseum and also have to travel to South Bend this year to face Notre Dame. When Texas at home or Notre Dame on the road is your second-toughest game, you have a serious non-conference schedule.