College Football 2011: Power Ranking the Toughest Schedules in the Pac-12

Ross ColemanAnalyst IMarch 6, 2011

College Football 2011: Power Ranking the Toughest Schedules in the Pac-12

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    The 2011 season will be bringing us the new-look Pac-12 Conference by adding Utah and Colorado to the existing schools. How that addition affects the conference remains to be seen, but it is sure to make things more interesting.

    Here we will be going through all 12 schools and ranking them based on how schedule difficulty.

    Non-conference foes range from the likes of Ohio State to Sacramento State so it is apparent that teams have a wide range of opponents that they look to schedule.

    Read on to take a look at each school's schedule and let us know which one looks easiest to you.

12. California Golden Bears

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Head coach Jeff Tedford of the California Golden Bears watches his team play their game against the Stanford Cardinal at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Imag
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    9/3 Fresno State

    9/10 at Colorado

    9/17 Presbyterian

    9/24 at Washington

    10/6 at Oregon

    10/13 USC

    10/22 Utah

    10/29 at UCLA

    11/5 Washington State

    11/12 Oregon State

    11/19 at Stanford

    11/26 at Arizona State

    Toughest Feature:  Back-to-back games between Oregon and USC are tough to deal with and having to play at Stanford is never easy. The Bears also have 10 conference games because of a game previously scheduled against Colorado.

    Easiest Feature: The non-conference schedule is actually pretty easy. Fresno State is the toughest non-conference game, which means it isn't all that bad. Also, their 10th conference game is against Colorado so it's not exactly a difficult extra game.


11. Utah Utes

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22:  Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes stands on the field during a time-out in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against the Boise State Broncos at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Boise State Won 26-3.
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    9/1 Montana State

    9/10 at USC

    9/17 at BYU

    10/1 Washington

    10/8 Arizona State

    10/15 at Pitt

    10/22 at California

    10/29 Oregon State

    11/5 at Arizona

    11/12 UCLA

    11/19 at Washington State

    11/26 Colorado

    Toughest Feature: At USC and at Pittsburgh are the two most difficult games on the schedule for the Utes. But to be honest, playing their first season in the Pac-12 is going to make things a lot more difficult for this team.

    Easiest Feature: The Utes miss both Stanford and Oregon in their initial season in the conference and that makes things at least a little easier.

10. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 02:  Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on December 2, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 30-29 in double overtime.  (Photo by Chr
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    9/3 UC Davis

    9/10 Missouri

    9/17 at Illinois

    9/24 USC

    10/1 Oregon State

    10/8 at Utah

    10/15 at Oregon

    10/29 Colorado

    11/05 at UCLA

    11/12 at Washington State

    11/19 Arizona

    11/26 Cal

    Toughest Feature: Two of the Sun Devils' first four games are home against very tough opponents. Missouri is probably going to take a slight step back in 2011 but the Tigers are still a quality opponent. USC is also a tough game for Arizona State just two weeks later. They also have to play at Oregon a few short weeks later.

    Easiest Feature: Missing Stanford is a huge plus for the Sun Devils and they also have a fairly easy five games to finish their season.

9. Stanford Cardinal

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after he threw a 38-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Virginai Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miam
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    9/3 San Jose State

    9/10 at Duke

    9/17 at Arizona

    10/1 UCLA

    10/8 Colorado

    10/15 at Washington State

    10/22 Washington

    10/29 at USC

    11/5 at Oregon State

    11/12 Oregon

    11/19 California

    11/26 Notre Dame

    Toughest Feature: The Cardinal have three very tough games out of their last five. At USC, Oregon at home, and Notre Dame at home are all going to be difficult for the Cardinal to finish with.

    Easiest Feature: Stanford's non-conference (besides Notre Dame) is very easy. San Jose State at home and at Duke aren't going to challenge Stanford very much.

8. UCLA Bruins

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    BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Head coach Rick Neuheisel of the UCLA Bruins looks on against the California Golden at California Memorial Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    9/3 at Houston

    9/10 San Jose State

    9/17 Texas

    9/24 at Oregon State

    10/1 at Stanford

    10/8 Washington State

    10/20 at Arizona

    10/29 California

    11/5 Arizona State

    11/12 at Utah

    11/19 Colorado

    11/26 at USC

    Toughest Feature: Texas is probably going to be better this year than last year. The Longhorns are also going to be really looking for revenge against the Bruins after getting beat up by a bad UCLA team in Austin last year. The Bruins also have road games at Stanford and at USC.

    Easiest Feature: The best news for the Bruins is that they miss Oregon and Washington this coming season, which will be make or break for Rick Neuheisel in 2010.

7. Washington State Cougars

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    PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Paul Wulff of the Washington State Cougars walks out of the tunnel with John Fullington #77 and Jeffrey Solomon #12 for their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Palo Alto,
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    9/3 Idaho State

    9/10 UNLV

    9/17 at SDSU

    10/1 at Colorado

    10/8 at UCLA

    10/15 Stanford

    10/22 Oregon State

    10/29 at Oregon

    11/5 at California

    11/12 Arizona State

    11/19 Utah

    11/26 at Washington

    Toughest Feature: Aside from the fact that the Cougars are one of the worst teams in college football so really every game is going to be tough, the two games to really circle are Stanford and at Oregon.

    Easiest Feature: The non-conference schedule isn't very difficult for the Cougars. Washington State could end up going 0-3 during the non-conference, but the games will be closer than most other games.

6. Oregon Ducks

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks looks on against the Auburn Tigers in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/G
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    9/3 LSU

    9/10 Nevada

    9/17 Missouri State

    9/24 at Arizona

    10/6 California

    10/15 Arizona State

    10/22 at Colorado

    10/29 Washington State

    11/05 at Washington

    11/12 at Stanford

    11/19 USC

    11/26 Oregon State

    Toughest Feature: The Ducks might have the toughest road this season based solely on the fact that the target is going to be on their backs from Game 1. However, throwing in a game against LSU along with back-to-back games at Stanford and against USC at home is going to make things more difficult for the Ducks to repeat their BCS appearance.

    Easiest Feature: The Ducks have four road games to deal with and the non-conference, aside from LSU, is pretty easy. Nevada is going to be breaking in a new quarterback and Missouri State is just another FCS school.

5. USC Trojans

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Head Coach Lane Kiffin and Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans react to a 3rd and 1 conversion against the California Golden Bears during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 16, 2010 in Los Angeles,
    Harry How/Getty Images

    9/3 Minnesota

    9/10 Utah

    9/17 Syracuse

    9/24 at Arizona State

    10/1 Arizona

    10/13 at California

    10/22 at Notre Dame

    10/29 Stanford

    11/5 at Colorado

    11/12 Washington

    11/19 at Oregon

    11/26 UCLA

    Toughest Feature: Back-to-back games against Notre Dame and Stanford start a tough second half of the season for the Trojans. USC also has back-to-back games against Washington and at Oregon.

    Easiest Feature: Minnesota and Syracuse are both going to be easy non-conference opponents for the Trojans, considering the fact that the Trojans are one of the more experienced teams in the Pac-12.

4. Oregon State Beavers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 04:  Head coach Mike Riley of the Oregon State Beavers on the sidelines during play against the TCU Horned Frogs at Cowboys Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    9/3 Sacramento State

    9/10 at Wisconsin

    9/24 UCLA

    10/1 at Arizona State

    10/8 Arizona

    10/15 BYU

    10/22 at Washington State

    10/29 at Utah

    11/5 Stanford

    11/12 at California

    11/19 Washington

    11/26 at Oregon

    Toughest Feature: The Beavers have games at Wisconsin, against Stanford and at Oregon during the season, which will all test an Oregon State squad that is going to be taking on its first season without Jacquizz Rodgers.

    Easiest Feature: The Beavers do miss out on USC this year and they have a pretty simple warm-up game against Sacramento State.

3. Washington Huskies

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    SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30:  Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the Washington Huskies looks on during the game against the Stanford Cardinal on October 30, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. Stanford defeated Washington 41-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Get
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    9/3 Eastern Washington

    9/10 Hawaii

    9/17 at Nebraska

    9/24 California

    10/1 at Utah

    10/15 Colorado

    10/22 at Stanford

    10/29 Arizona

    11/5 Oregon

    11/12 at USC

    11/19 at Oregon State

    11/26 Washington State

    Toughest Feature: The Huskies are going to be breaking in a new quarterback this season which is going to make everything tougher to begin with, but traveling to Nebraska, Stanford and USC while also hosting Oregon, makes their schedule one of the toughest.

    Easiest Feature: Eastern Washington may have won the FCS championship this year, but they still won't be able to matchup with Washington.

2. Colorado Buffaloes

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    BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 20:  Ralphie IV, the mascot for the Colorado Buffaloes, leads coach Brian Cabral (R) and the team onto the field to face the Kansas State Wildcats at Folsom Field on November 20, 2010 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Kansas S
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    9/3 at Hawaii

    9/10 California

    9/17 Colorado State

    9/24 at Ohio State

    10/1 Washington State

    10/8 at Stanford

    10/15 at Washington

    10/22 Oregon

    10/29 at Arizona State

    11/05 USC

    11/12 Arizona

    11/19 at UCLA

    11/26 at Utah

    Toughest Feature: The first season for the Buffaloes in the Pac-12 is not going to be an easy one. They have a seven-week stretch in which they take on Ohio State, Stanford, Oregon and USC among others. Talk about a brutal opening year.

    Easiest Feature: Honestly, there isn't much that can be considered easy about the Buffs schedule. Until we see them play under a new coach in a new conference, all I can do is take pity on them.

1. Arizona Wildcats

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    TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 02:  Head coach Mike Stoops of the Arizona Wildcats during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on December 2, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 30-29 in double
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    9/3 Northern Arizona

    9/10 at Oklahoma State

    9/17 Stanford

    9/24 Oregon

    10/1 at USC

    10/8 at Oregon State

    10/20 UCLA

    10/29 at Washington

    11/5 Utah

    11/12 at Colorado

    11/19 at Arizona State

    11/26 Louisiana-Lafayette

    Toughest Feature: The Wildcats have a four-game stretch against Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and USC. That might be the toughest four-game stretch in college football this year.

    Easiest Feature: The good news about that stretch is the fact that it is early in the season. Sure the Wildcats might go into a death spiral after after that stretch, but there is still time to pull themselves out of it.