By: Rex Eastwood (@REast_Eazy)
Monday night, May 11th, Nick Rolovich enters the chat with a stuffed cougar. A nice breath of humor before discussions on what the PAC 12 season could potentially shape up to be. The biggest takeaway was the possibility of playing an entire 11 game regular season facing each conference opponent. Therefore, eliminating the three game non-conference schedule.
The effects would encompass more than just the PAC 12. The other non-conference opponents would have to find teams to replace the PAC 12 games on their schedule. Sure, that’s not a problem for the bigger name schools, but the Group of 5 teams may struggle to fill those gaps with quality and similar income benefits. Would the playoff selection change? No PAC 12 team has made it since 2016-2017 but zero non-conference would immensely hurt their strength of schedule. Finally, sorry Vegas and anyone who locked in a win total already. Those will be voided and new numbers and lines will be published. Let’s take a look at some of the games that we would miss.
Alabama’s First Non-Conference Test Since….
September 5th, USC vs. Alabama in Dallas, Texas. Rex’s Spread: Alabama -17.5
Clay Helton could miss out on trying to play spoiler in Saban’s first season without Tua. To start the season in Jerry World, Kedon Slovis would face Mac Jones or Bryce Young in a “show me what you got” QB matchup. A sniff at an upset against Bama would start the comparisons of Slovis to other notable USC QBs. Oh, too late, USC is already there.
Top 10 Matchup in Eugene
September 12th, Ohio State at Oregon. Rex’s Spread: Ohio St. -8
The Ducks opened at FanDuel over a touchdown underdogs to the Buckeyes at home. This is the first time Oregon is listed as home underdogs in the non-conference since 2003 against Michigan. Mario Cristobal proved his defense has the talent, but enough to hold Ohio State’s offense under 4 touchdowns? Whomever is under center, Tyler Shough or Anthony Brown, could be in for a long day if Oregon’s offensive line regresses at all from their top rank last season.
Hot Start for Jimmy Lake?
September 5th, Washington at Michigan. Rex’s Spread: Michigan -7
Jimmy Lake’s first signature win as the head coach is at stake. To shut down any conversations on whether he was the right hire or if the program is regressing could be ended as soon as week one. Traveling to Ann Arbor and leaving with a win would make supporters forget about last season’s disappointment.
First Time Since 1946 without the Rivalry
November 28th, Notre Dame at USC. Rex’s Spread: ND -3
For the first time since World War II, Notre Dame versus USC is at risk of being played. In the past ten seasons, the Irish have won seven, including the past three. The Trojans have closed the gap in the talent discrepancy from previous seasons and would have been a viable home dog in the last week.
The Holy War
September 3rd, BYU at Utah. Rex’s Spread: Utah -18
2020 did not seem to be BYU’s year to stop the losing streak against Utah. The Utes will have a new starting QB and RB, yet they are still projected to be over two touchdown favorites. The rivalry has also been played every season going back to WWII except for a small gap in 2014-2015. BYU may potentially suffer the most from the PAC 12 eliminating their non-conference. They will need to replace two additional games for their schedule (against Arizona and Stanford later in the season).
Sorry Over Bettors
September 3rd, Oregon State at Oklahoma State. Rex’s Spread: OK St. -23
It would be strange unless you are a Beavers or Pokes fans to have this game circled on the calendar. Or, you just enjoy betting the over. The second part of the home and home was planned for Thursday night football in Week 1. In last season’s game, Oklahoma St. won 52-36 and the schools’ produced 1,003 total yards combined.
Cheez-It Bowl Rematch
September 5th, TCU at Cal. Rex’s Spread: TCU -2.5
The rematch we didn’t need but received anyway. Who could forget TCU’s 10-7 thrilling overtime win in 2018? There is no way this game could have been as ugly as the previous…right?
Old Big XII, Big 8 and Southwest Showdown
September 19th, Colorado at Texas A&M. Rex’s Spread: Texas A&M -27
Old foes were primed to square off for the first time since Colorado left the Big XII in 2009. Three years later, Texas A&M departed for the SEC. While in the same conference, the Buffs lead the series 6-3, but it seems the Aggies would have blown the doors off of Colorado at home.
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