NCAA Football Pac 12 Football

10 Best Non-Conference Games in 2014 for Pac-12 Teams

10 Best Non-Conference Games in 2014 for Pac-12 Teams

Oregon Ducks
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The 2014 Pac-12 football teams have more preseason hype around them than in previous years. The conference features the most quarterback starts coming back of any other conference. An influx of successful coaches over the past few years such as Steve Sarkisian, Rich Rodriguez, Todd Graham, Jim Mora, David Shaw, Mike Leach and now Chris Peterson only bolster those expectations. Let's look at the top non-conference matchups this season.

10. Eastern Washington at Washington

Chris Peterson Washington Huskies
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10. Eastern Washington at Washington

Chris Peterson Washington Huskies
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Huskies are not the first college football team ever to have their coach leave for a school with more tradition. It might be the first school to get an upgrade at the coaching position after their coach left for greener pastures, though. Chris Peterson comes to Washington after posting a 92-13 record at Boise State. Eastern Washington last season defeated the then-No. 25 Oregon State Beavers 49-46 in Corvallis.

9. Rutgers at Washington State

Mike Leach and Connor Halladay
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9. Rutgers at Washington State

Mike Leach and Connor Halladay
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Mike Leach has brought the Washington State Cougars a long way in just two seasons. It wasn’t too long ago that the Cougars were the laughing stock of the conference. Under the direction of the pirate-loving Leach, the Cougars took the Auburn Tigers down to the wire, beat USC and made its first bowl game since 2003. In 2014, the Cougars and stat-stuffing quarterback Connor Halliday open the season against Rutgers in Seattle.

8. San Diego State at Oregon State

Oregon State and San Diego State
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8. San Diego State at Oregon State

Oregon State and San Diego State
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In 2013, Oregon State Beaver quarterback Sean Mannion threw for more yards (4,662) than any Pac-12 QB ever. He also threw for 37 touchdowns which trails only the numbers of Matt Barkley and Matt Leinhart. The Beavers will host the San Diego State Aztecs for their third game of the season. The two teams faced off last year in San Diego with the Beavers winning 34-30.

7. Colorado State vs. Colorado

Colorado Buffaloes
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7. Colorado State vs. Colorado

Colorado Buffaloes
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The Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams have been playing each other since 1893. Colorado leads the series 62-21-2. In previous years, this game would be ranked higher due to the in-state rivalry, but both programs have struggled recently. The only Division I team Colorado beat in 2013 besides conference doormat California was Colorado State. The Rams lost six games last year, but did manage to win the New Mexico Bowl.

6. Fresno State at USC

USC Trojans and Fresno State Bulldogs
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6. Fresno State at USC

USC Trojans and Fresno State Bulldogs
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 15 USC Trojans have high expectations this season returning 13 starters and getting rid of every other team’s favorite coach, Lane Kiffin. Steve Sarkisian opens up with the Bulldogs, who return 13 starters from a team that was a win away from possibly breaking into the BCS bowl picture. Instead, they landed in the lowly Las Vegas Bowl to get beaten by the Trojans 45-20. In 2005, the Bulldogs took No. 1 USC down to the wire losing 50-42.

5. Notre Dame at Arizona State

Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Arizona State Sun Devils
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5. Notre Dame at Arizona State

Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Arizona State Sun Devils
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Notre Dame upset the Arizona State Sun Devils last season 37-34 in Dallas, Texas. When No. 17 Notre Dame agreed to play five ACC opponents every year, it tried to cancel this game with the No. 18 Sun Devils. Arizona State threw a fit and forced Notre Dame to honor their commitment, but agreed to cancel their planned game in South Bend. The Arizona State athletic department has been relying on this game to make the school a lot of money this year.

4. Stanford at Notre Dame

Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Stanford Cardinal
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4. Stanford at Notre Dame

Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Stanford Cardinal
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Two of the top academic intuitions in the nation have faced off on the gridiron every year since 1988. No. 17 Notre Dame lead the series 18-10, but the No. 11 Stanford Cardinal have taken four out of the past five matchups. The last time the Cardinal came into historic Notre Dame Stadium, they lost on a controversial goal-line-stand in overtime. Had Stanford won that game, they would have faced Alabama in the BCS national championship game.

3. UCLA at Texas

Texas Longhorns
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3. UCLA at Texas

Texas Longhorns
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The UCLA Bruins will pack their bags to Austin, Texas and bring with them their highest preseason ranking since Cade McNown was taking snaps in 1998. Heisman candidate Brett Hundley and the No. 8 Bruins have ultra-high expectations this season and the No. 24 Longhorns will be their first test. Playing in front of 100,000-plus fans is not new to the Bruins, but this game is in enemy territory.

2. Notre Dame at USC

Notre Dame Fighting Irish and USC Trojans
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2. Notre Dame at USC

Notre Dame Fighting Irish and USC Trojans
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The greatest intersectional rivalry in college football has been played since 1926. No. 17 Notre Dame is 45-35-5 all-time against the No. 15 USC Trojans. Each storied school has 11 national championships and seven Heisman trophies. In 2012, USC was the preseason No. 1 while Notre Dame was unranked, but the rankings were flipped by that Thanksgiving weekend. The Irish beat the Trojans to earn a spot in the BCS national championship game.

1. Michigan State at Oregon

Oregon Ducks
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1. Michigan State at Oregon

Oregon Ducks
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 8 Michigan State Spartans come into Autzen Stadium looking for an upset of the No. 4 Oregon Ducks. If you are a football lover, this is a great matchup for you. The game will feature arguably the fastest team in the nation against the strongest. Michigan State returns 11 starters from last year’s Rose Bowl-winning team. Marcus Mariota and the Ducks have aspirations of a Heisman trophy and national championship.