The Pac-12 has a loaded slate of non-conference foes. Here are the games you should be the most excited for.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Article by Kent Doepel
1. Oregon vs Georgia (Atlanta)
The storylines in this game are going to be fantastic. Dan Lanning headed to Eugene to be the next Oregon head coach after leading the top defense in the country at Georgia in 2021. That dominant defense propelled the Bulldogs to win their first National Title since 1980. Now, the two teams will meet on September 3rd in Atlanta and Lanning will know all of the ins and outs of the Georgia program. The Bulldogs will likely open the season as a top three team in the country but could have between 10-15 players taken in the 2022 Draft. Getting Georgia early in the year before the team gels could give the Ducks a chance at an upset similar to their victory over Ohio State last year.
2. Utah at Florida
The Utes are the early favorites to win the Pac-12 in 2022 and are projected as a possible playoff team. Florida, on the other hand, is coming off a 6-7 season that resulted in the firing of Dan Mullen. Despite the struggles for the Gators, this is a program that always recruits at a top 10 level and had the 7th most talented roster in the country last year according to the 247 Talent Composite. Utah will have their hands full dealing with the humidity in Gainesville but should enter the contest as a slight favorite. A win here and Utah fans can truly start dreaming about the potential of reaching the College Football Playoffs.
3. Oregon vs BYU
This is going to be a fun one. These are two of the best programs in the West and two of the best fanbases in the country. Both teams should be ranked for this matchup and the Cougars are going to be fired up to take down another Pac-12 program after going 5-0 against the conference in 2021. Autzen Stadium is going to be rocking for this contest so expect noise to be a big factor.
4. USC vs Notre Dame
USC is back. The Trojans stunned the country when they stole Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma and then they went out and convinced some of the most talented players in the country to transfer to Los Angeles, including Oklahoma's star QB, Caleb Williams. Notre Dame will have a tough time replacing one of the top coaches in the country after Brian Kelly announced he was heading to LSU so this could be the year that the Trojans finally have the advantage over their rival.
5. Washington vs Michigan State
Kalen DeBoer will get a chance to prove he's the right guy to take the Huskies back to glory when Michigan State comes to town on September 17th. The Spartans have an excellent coach in Mel Tucker and will be coming off an 11 win season that ended with a Peach Bowl victory over Pittsburgh.
6. Arizona State at Oklahoma State
ASU has had a wild offseason with coaches departing left and right. The Sun Devils are dealing with an NCAA scandal related to recruiting violations and were forced to replace their offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and a few other assistants. Despite the personnel losses, ASU will take solace in the fact that they have Jayden Daniels back at quarterback and a talented enough roster to reach a bowl. On the other sideline, Mike Gundy has consistently proven to be one of the best coaches in the country and completed a 12 win season in 2021. The Cowboys will be the favorite in this one but don't count ASU out.
7. WSU at Wisconsin
The Cougs are going to be dark horse to win the Pac-12 North this Fall after landing one of the best transfers in the country in quarterback Cameron Ward. The Incarnate Word transfer has spectacular film and will be instantly comfortable as he chose the Cougs over Ole Miss to follow his head coach who took the OC position on the Palouse. ESPN has the Badgers ranked 24th in their 2022 rankings so a win for the Cougs in Madison would make a national statement and further increase Jake Dickert's credibility among WSU fans.
8. Utah vs San Diego State
The Utes should have their calendars circled for this one. The Aztecs nearly derailed Utah's season in 2021 after they handed them a 33-31 loss that put Kyle Whittingham's squad at 1-2 to start the season. SDSU is always physical and they will run the ball and play tough defense. In many ways, they're quite similar to the team in Salt Lake City. Expect a slug fest at Rice-Eccles on September 17th.
9. Arizona vs Mississippi State
Mike Leach will make his return to the Pac-12 on September 10th in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats had a dismal season in 2021 that resulted in a 1-11 record but Fisch got to work this offseason to improve the talent levels. His hard work paid off with Arizona prepared to bring in nine four star athletes this Fall. Their biggest pick up came when Jayden de Laura announced he was leaving WSU for the Wildcats and that move will make this game closer than many may expect.
10. Oregon State vs Boise State
Jonathan Smith's rebuild of the Beavers has been one of the best stories in college football. His offenses have been delightful to watch and he's proven he can develop overlooked players into stars. Smith is a product of the Boise coaching tree after coaching under Chris Petersen from 2012-2013 with the Broncos and then 2014-2017 at Washington. Andy Avalos coached with Smith in those 2012 and 2013 seasons and that familiarity will add a fun dynamic to this season opener on September 3rd.
11. Stanford vs BYU
12. Cal vs Notre Dame
13. Colorado vs TCU
14. Colorado at Minnesota
15. Stanford at Notre Dame
16. USC vs Fresno State
17. Oregon State at Fresno State
18. Arizona at San Diego State
19. Arizona vs North Dakota State
20. Colorado at Air Force