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Ranking the 2017 Pac-12 football schedules: UCLA & Cal face toughest slates in the conference

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Ranking the 2017 Pac-12 football schedules in toughness from top to bottom

NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

12. Washington (at Rutgers, Montana, Fresno State, at Colorado, at Oregon State, Cal, at Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon, at Stanford, Utah, Washington State)

The Huskies have a comfortable path back to the Pac-12 Championship Game. They have another laughably soft non-conference schedule, avoid USC and have only one game where I would say right now they might be favored (at Stanford). They get Oregon and Washington State in Seattle from the North and UCLA and Utah from the South.

11. Oregon (Southern Utah, Nebraska, at Wyoming, at Arizona State, Cal, Washington State, at Stanford, at UCLA, Utah, at Washington, Arizona, Oregon State)

The Ducks have a decent path back to a bowl game. The big thing is avoiding USC from the South and getting both Arizona schools. They have a non-conference challenge against Nebraska, but get it at home. The toughest part of their schedule might be drawing North powers Stanford and Washington on the road.

10. Arizona (Northern Arizona, Houston, at UTEP, Utah, at Colorado, UCLA, at Cal, Washington State, at USC, Oregon State, at Oregon, at Arizona State)

The Wildcats score big in their North draw as they miss Washington and Stanford. Their non-conference schedule is about average and they get UCLA at Utah at home. Their challenges are drawing USC and Colorado on the road.

9. Colorado (Colorado State, Texas State, Northern Colorado, Washington, at UCLA, Arizona, at Oregon State, at Washington State, Cal, at Arizona State, USC, at Utah)

The Buffs get to avoid Stanford and draw Washington at home from the North. They have what I think is the easiest non-conference schedule in the conference, at get USC, at home, in November. They do have to go at UCLA, Utah and Washington State though.

8. USC (Western Michigan, Stanford, Texas, at Cal, at Washington State, Oregon State, Utah, at Notre Dame, at Arizona State, Arizona, at Colorado, UCLA)

The Trojans have a blistering non-conference schedule, but Notre Dame being down and Texas being rebounding help. The reason they drop so far is they don’t play the two best teams in the Pac-12 - themselves, and Washington. They also get arguably the three best Pac-12 teams they play this year all at home in Stanford, Utah and UCLA along with a bye week after UCLA to potentially prepare for the P12CG.

7. Oregon State (Portland State, Minnesota, at Washington State, at Colorado State, Washington, at USC, Colorado, Stanford, at Cal, at Arizona, Arizona State, at Oregon)

The Beavers have a tough non-conference schedule and draw USC on the road out of the South. They get some help in the North by getting Stanford and Washington at home, but do have to play The Civil War in Eugene.

6. Washington State (Montana State, Boise State, Oregon State, Nevada, USC, at Oregon, at Cal, Colorado, at Arizona, Stanford, at Utah, at Washington)

The Cougars have a solid non-conference schedule and have a crazy overall schedule, where they play their first five games of the season in Pullman. That home stretch isn’t too cozy though as the Cougars host Boise State and USC. The bad news is the road trips start and things get really hairy, particularly in their final four, where they only get one home game and that happens to be against North power Stanford.

5. Utah (North Dakota, at BYU, San Jose State, at Arizona, Stanford, at USC, Arizona State, at Oregon, UCLA, Washington State, at Washington, Colorado)

The Cougars have to play BYU on the road out-of-conference and draw both Stanford and Washington (on the road). They miss the North (and maybe the Pac-12’s two worst teams) in Cal and Oregon State and get USC on the road. They get a nice home close with three of their final four at home though including really good teams - UCLA, Washington State and Colorado.

4. Arizona State (New Mexico State, San Diego State, at Texas Tech, Oregon, at Stanford, Washington, at Utah, USC, Colorado, at UCLA, at Oregon State, Arizona)

The Sun Devils play a tough non-conference slate and draw both Stanford (on the road) and Washington from the North while missing Cal (who might be the Pac-12’s worst team). The good news is they get USC, Colorado and The Territorial Cup in Tempe.

3. Stanford (at Rice, at USC, at San Diego State, UCLA, Arizona State, at Utah, Oregon, at Oregon State, at Washington State, Washington, Cal, Notre Dame)

The Cardinal start out with three-straight road games, including one at USC followed-up with a game at San Diego State. Things don’t get much easier from there even though the Cardinal get to say at home as they close by hosting Washington and Notre Dame in the final three weeks and have tough road trips to Salt Lake City and Pullman. Also, opening up conference play with both LA schools is never easy.

2. Cal (at North Carolina, Weber State, Mississippi, USC, at Oregon, at Washington, Washington State, Arizona, at Colorado, Oregon State, at Stanford, at UCLA)

The poor Bears have a nightmare schedule for Justin Wilcox’ first season. Just look at that start with their non-conference challenges and then an opening Pac-12 trio of USC and at Oregon and Washington. Then a close of three of four on the road with Colorado, Stanford and UCLA.

  1. UCLA (Texas A&M, Hawaii, at Memphis, at Stanford, Colorado, at Arizona, Oregon, at Washington, at Utah, Arizona State, at USC, Cal)

The Bruins have their work cut out for them. They have a tough non-conference slate and draw both Stanford and Washington from the North, on the road while missing out on Oregon State. They get USC on the road in the South and close with three out of five on the road against what could easily be the Pac-12’s three best teams.