I recently addressed 5 SEC squads that should be pretty ashamed of their non-conference schedules. With a non-conference quartet consisting of Temple, UMass, Charleston Southern, and Old Dominion, the Vanderbilt Commodores easily clinched the top spot for the most shameful SEC non-conference slate.
Now it’s time to examine the five softest Pac-12 non-conference schedules. From weak FCS opponents to three teams scheduling Hawaii (1-11 in 2013), these non-conference schedules don’t give fans much to get excited about.
(Also, don’t forget to check out our review of the 5 weakest 2014 Big Ten non-conference schedules while you’re here.)
The Cardinal are coming off an unprecedented 5-year stretch consisting of five straight bowl games, four BCS appearances, and no fewer than 11 wins in each of the past four seasons. While expectations are high once again down on The Farm, Stanford fans can’t be too thrilled at the club’s non-conference slate – especially at home.
FCS opponent UC Davis makes the short drive south to open up Stanford’s 2014 season on August 30. After an early season conference showdown at home versus USC the following week, Army’s option-happy offense comes to Palo Alto for the first time since 1979. Although the Black Knights put up a decent battle at home last year before the Cardinal pulled away 34-20, expect a defense that gave up 31.6 points per game last year to be overwhelmed by Stanford’s massive offensive line.
4. Washington State
It only took coach Mike Leach two years to take the Cougars bowling for the first time since 2003. His squad was poised to knock off Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl until a stunning series of 4th quarter turnovers resulted in a 48-45 loss.
Leach and returning quarterback Connor Halliday look to improve upon a passing game that pumped out 368 yards of offense in the air last year. There should be plenty of room in opposing secondaries during matchups versus non-conference foes Rutgers (81st in points against in 2013), Nevada (104th in points against in 2013), and Football Championship Subdivision’s Portland State.
3. Oregon State
Hawaii makes its first of three appearances on the list thanks in part to a miserable 2013 season that saw the Rainbows winless until a 7-point win during the final week over Army.
Oregon State will travel to the Big Island after an opening week tussle versus Portland State. It does bear mentioning that the Beavers opened up 2013 with a devastating 49-46 home loss to Eastern Washington, but it’s hard to believe they could overlook an FCS opponent two years in a row. The non-conference schedule does improve a bit when 2013 bowl winner San Diego State comes to town on September 20.
First-year coach Mike MacIntyre won as many games in his first season (4) as his predecessor Jon Embree did in 2011-2012 combined. Part of this was due to a non-conference schedule featuring two FCS schools, which resulted when Colorado and Fresno State were unable to reschedule a postponed contest.
The non-conference slate isn’t much better in 2014. After Colorado’s traditional opening season tilt versus rival Colorado State, the Buffs travel to Gillette Stadium to take on what many believe is the 128th – or dead last – ranked team in all of college football: UMass. Two weeks later, on September 20th, Colorado takes on a Hawaii team that could neither move the ball on the ground on offense or stop opposing teams from doing so on defense last season.
One of two teams utilizing the Hawaii Exemption, Washington finds itself as the only Pac-12 squad playing four non-conference opponents. Ironically, FCS foe Eastern Washington might prove to be the Huskies biggest challenge.
After flying across the Pacific Ocean to face Hawaii during Week 1, Washington returns home to play three straight non-conference home games. On September 6, an Eastern Washington squad that defeated #25 Oregon State in 2013 and made it all the way to the FCS semifinals comes to town with nothing to lose. This matchup is followed by teams that pretty much did nothing but lose in 2013: Illinois managed only four wins while Georgia State struggled mightily in the post-Bill Curry era en route to an 0-12 season.
Andy Coffaro is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @andycoffaro and LinkedIn.