Power Ranking Each Pac-12 South Team's Non-Conference Schedule
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While each team in the Pac-12 South will play some difficult out-of-conference games, Arizona State's non-conference schedule is the toughest.
In the era of the BCS, non-conference games are a major key to any team's success.
Teams that play a bunch of cupcakes can boost their win total, but they may be overlooked when it comes to bowl selection.
On the other hand, teams may cram their non-conference schedule with high-caliber opponents week after week. This is a gamble though because the odds of getting through a tough non-conference schedule without a loss are slim.
With the college football season just around the corner, let's rank the non-conference schedules in the Pac-12 South.
All stats unless otherwise indicated come from ESPN.com
No. 6: University of Arizona
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Week 1 vs. Northern Arizona (2012 8-3)
Week 2 at UNLV (2012 2-11)
Week 3 vs. University of Texas at San Antonio (8-4)
The University of Arizona has the easiest non-conference schedule in the Pac-12 South.
None of these games should give them any trouble.
NAU will be an easy win for the Wildcats, as last year ASU beat the Lumberjacks by a score of 63-6 to start its season.
It's not even worth talking about the matchup against UNLV. It should be considered a loss if the Wildcats don't win this one by at least four touchdowns.
U of A's last non-conference game is against the University of Texas at San Antonio, whose best game last year was probably its 20-point loss to Rice.
Needless to say, there will be some major issues in Tucson if Arizona isn't 3-0 to start 2013.
No. 5: University of Utah
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Week 1 vs. Utah State (2012 11-2)
Week 2 vs. Weber State (2012 2-9)
Week 4 at BYU (2012 8-5)
The University of Utah isn't expected to do much in 2013, but its weak non-conference schedule should be able to help it build some momentum.
Utah State will be a tough test for Utah, but a game the Utes should win. Last year's game went to overtime before the Aggies prevailed.
This year, at home, the Utes shouldn't have a problem securing a win.
There isn't much to say about the Utes' matchup against Weber State. Last year, the Wildcats of Weber State only beat Idaho State and Southern Utah.
The Utes' biggest test will come against BYU. This rivalry game is always a close, tough battle and one the Utes may lose.
The reason Utah isn't at the bottom of the list is because, unlike U of A, it is playing a few teams that have a chance to win.
No. 4: University of Southern California
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Week 1 at Hawaii (2012 3-9)
Week 3 vs. Boston College (2012 2-10)
Week 4 vs. Utah State (2012 11-2)
Week 7 at Notre Dame (2012 12-1)
The USC Trojans don't come into this season ranked No. 1, but they do have a fairly easy non-conference schedule to navigate.
Their first two non-conference games against Hawaii and Boston College shouldn't cause too many issues for the Trojans.
The Utah State Aggies are a tough team , but Trojans should win that game. Utah State can put points up on the scoreboard, but by this point in the season USC should have a lot of momentum on its side.
The Trojans' toughest test will be their annual rivalry game against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish look to be a much better team than USC coming into this season, and this is a game USC has a good chance of losing, especially since it has to travel to South Bend.
The reason USC has the fourth-toughest non-conference schedule in the Pac-12 South is because it really only has one game it should lose.
Hawaii, Boston College and Utah State are all games USC should win. If it plays well enough, USC could beat Notre Dame too.
Their fairly easy non-conference schedule should help the Trojans build confidence in 2013.
No. 3: University of California Los Angeles
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Week 1 vs. Nevada (2012 7-6)
Week 2 at Nebraska (2012 10-4)
Week 3 vs. New Mexico State (2012 1-11)
The UCLA Bruins are the reigning Pac-12 South champions and their non-conference schedule in 2013 may set them up to win it again.
The first two weeks of the season will go a long way in determining the Bruins' fate, however.
UCLA opens their 2013 season against Nevada, which on paper looks like a game the Bruins should win.
Nevada, however, can run the ball really well. Last season the Wolfpack averaged 271 yards on the ground per game.
UCLA has had trouble on defense recently, as the Bruins allowed almost 28 PPG last year and almost 191 yards on the ground.
If Nevada can run and control the clock, it might be a long day for the Bruins.
Next up is Nebraska.
This trip to Lincoln probably won't be a good one for the Bruins.
Nebraska is another team that can move the ball on the ground with great success. The Cornhuskers had the eighth-best rushing attack in all of college football last year.
It will be up to UCLA's defense yet again to stop the rushing attack of Nebraska if the Bruins want to get a big road victory.
Finally, UCLA can breathe a little easier when New Mexico State comes into town. The Aggies only won one game last year and shouldn't be much of a test for the Bruins.
No. 2: University of Colorado
Colorado fans might not be smiling come kickoff as the Buffaloes have a tough non-conference schedule in 2013.
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Week 1 vs. Colorado State (2012 4-8) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Week 2 vs. Central Arkansas (2012 9-3)
Week 3 vs. Fresno State (2012 9-4)
While it may not seem like Colorado has a tough non-conference schedule, a closer look will show an uphill climb for the Buffaloes.
After going just 1-11 last season, Colorado isn't expected to do much in 2013.
That is part of what makes the Buffaloes' non-conference schedule difficult—they aren't a very good football team. Couple that with playing some decent non-conference opponents, and the Buffaloes aren't set up for much success in 2013.
Colorado State marks the start to the Buffaloes' season and another chapter in a bitter rivalry. While Colorado State isn't a great team, neither is Colorado. This one is a toss-up and really could go either way.
Next comes Central Arkansas.
While the Bears aren't great, they did put up 27 points in a loss to Ole Miss last year. It is also worth noting that Sacramento State beat Colorado last year, so this is far from an easy win for the Buffaloes.
Colorado's final non-conference opponent is Fresno State.
This is almost a guaranteed loss for the Buffaloes as Fresno State is far better. Last year, the Bulldogs beat the Buffaloes 69-14.
The reason the Buffaloes rank as the second-toughest non-conference schedule in the Pac-12 South is because it is highly unlikely that they win more than one of those games.
They aren't a very good football team and have to play some decent opponents, which could spell another disastrous season in Boulder.
No. 1: Arizona State University
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Week 1 vs. Sacramento State (2012 6-5)
Week 2 vs. Wisconsin (2012 8-6)
Week 5 vs. Notre Dame (2012 12-1) at AT&T Stadium (Cowboys Stadium)
ASU has the toughest non-conference schedule in the Pac-12 South.
Their season starts with Sacramento State, and this game could be close.
The Hornets have won two of their last three games against Pac-12 opponents, which means ASU can't overlook them.
After Sacramento State, ASU welcomes Wisconsin to Tempe.
ASU will be looking to avenge its defeat from 2010 due to a botched extra-point. Wisconsin will be looking for its first marquee win of 2013.
Wisconsin is the reigning Big Ten champion and should give the Sun Devils all they can handle. After all, the Badgers came within six points of beating Stanford last year in the Rose Bowl.
ASU's final non-conference opponent is Notre Dame.
This game should have all the intensity of a championship bout after Notre Dame tried to cancel its trip to ASU in 2014. This will be the biggest non-conference test for ASU as Notre Dame fell just short of winning the national title last season.
The reason ASU has the toughest non-conference schedule in the Pac-12 South is because they don't really have any game that's a guarantee.
Yes, the Sun Devils should easily beat Sacramento State, but Colorado and Oregon State thought they should have too.
Wisconsin and Notre Dame are both top-notch college football programs and will give ASU a run for its money. ASU will need to be clicking on all cylinders to win at least two of its non-conference games in 2013.
That is why the Sun Devils have the toughest schedule.