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The six toughest Pac-12 nonconference schedules in 2017

Ranking college football schedules this early is admittedly tricky, but our Chris Low took a stab at it on a nation-wide scale this week. He ranked the country's 10 toughest nonconference schedules for the 2017 season, and we'll now take a look at the Pac-12's hardest six. Check back Friday for a look at the league's six easiest slates.

1. USC Trojans

Sept. 2: vs. Western Michigan

Sept. 16: vs. Texas

Oct. 21: at Notre Dame

This isn't as immediately tough as last season for USC, which began with a whooping at the hands of Alabama. But Western Michigan, winner of 13 games last season, figures to present a challenge right out of the gate. Tom Herman's visit with the Longhorns to the Coliseum promises to deliver video replays of a certain national championship game, and the trip to South Bend is rarely an easy one.

2. UCLA Bruins

Sept. 2: vs. Texas A&M

Sept. 9: vs. Hawai'i

Sept. 16: at Memphis

Josh Rosen rallied the Bruins to overtime against the Aggies in College Station last year, but ultimately fell short in the season opener. This time, UCLA gets Texas A&M in the Rose Bowl to open things. Hawai'i, coming off its first bowl win in 10 years, has improved greatly under new coach Nick Rolovich. Memphis has quietly won 27 games over the past three seasons, and the Bruins must travel across the country to face the Tigers.

3. Stanford Cardinal

Aug. 26: at Rice (in Sydney, Australia)

Sept. 9: at San Diego State

Nov. 25: vs. Notre Dame

The Cardinal shouldn't have any trouble with Rice, and they received a scheduling boost when that game was moved to Australia. Since it'll be played a week earlier than originally scheduled, Stanford will have a bye before its Sept. 2 showdown at USC. But the rest of this slate is treacherous: San Diego State -- fresh off back-to-back 11-win seasons -- is out for Pac-12 blood. The Cardinal and Notre Dame seem to always tangle in epically close games.

4. California Golden Bears

Sept. 2: at North Carolina

Sept. 9: vs. Weber State

Sept. 16: vs. Ole Miss

The Tar Heels might be losing key players on offense, but so are the Bears. Cal's new coaching staff will break in its tenure with a cross-country flight and a game likely played in summertime East Coast humidity -- a daunting combination. Two weeks later, an SEC team makes a rare visit to California. Ole Miss underperformed last season, but promises to pose a stiff test for the Bears' new regime.

5. ASU Sun Devils

Aug. 31: vs. New Mexico State

Sept. 9: vs. San Diego State

Sept. 16: at Texas Tech

That game against San Diego State spells real danger. The Aztecs derailed Cal last season, and they will have a chance to take a bite out of two more Pac-12 teams in 2017. If transfer Blake Barnett wins ASU's quarterback job, he'll immediately face San Diego State's takeaway machine -- the Aztecs led the nation with 26 interceptions last season. The Sun Devils beat Texas Tech 68-55 in 2016, so we migt see more basketball-on-grass in Lubbock come September.

6. Oregon Ducks

Sept. 2: vs. Southern Utah

Sept. 9: vs. Nebraska

Sept. 16: at Wyoming

Don't expect Willie Taggart and Co. to have much trouble in the season opener, but the next two weeks will be a challenge for the new staff. Oregon, of course, lost at Nebraska last year. Sept. 9 -- Mike Riley's return to the Beaver State -- will be a chance to avenge that. Wyoming narrowly lost in the Mountain West title game last season, so the trip to Laramie can be tricky -- especially if the Ducks aren't playing better defense yet.