Ranking Pac-12 North schedules

Here's a look at how the Pac-12's 2014 nonconference schedules stack up, starting with the North Division (*-denotes FCS team):

1. Oregon: Aug. 30, South Dakota (4-8)*; Sept. 6, Michigan State (13-1); Sept. 13, Wyoming (5-7)

This ranks No. 1 only because of the matchup with Michigan State, the Big Ten and Rose Bowl champions. The Spartans are the toughest of any Pac-12 nonconference foe. And because the other nonconference schedules in the North are so weak. Good news for Ducks: All games are in Autzen Stadium.

2. Stanford: Aug. 30, UC Davis (5-7)*; Sept. 13, Army (3-9); Oct. 4, at Notre Dame (9-4)

The annual game with Notre Dame means the Cardinal will always play at least one tough nonconference foe. This season, that means Stanford faces a more difficult nonconference slate than most other teams in the North.

3. California: Aug. 30, at Northwestern (5-7); Sept. 16, Sacramento State (5-7)*; Nov. 29, BYU (8-5)

Northwestern and BYU are solid teams, though the Wildcats were perhaps the most disappointing team in the Big Ten a year ago. If any team could be forgiven for seeking out a weak schedule, it would be the Bears. The big question: Are there two wins here?

4. Washington State: Aug. 28 in Seattle, Rutgers (6-7); Sept. 6 at Nevada (4-8); Sept. 13 Portland State (6-6)*

Two solid foes in Rutgers and Nevada, and neither game is in Pullman. Still, the Cougars should start 3-0.

5. Washington: Aug. 30, at Hawaii (1-11); Sept. 6, Eastern Washington (12-3)*; Sept. 13, Illinois (4-8); Sept. 20, Georgia State (0-12)

The Huskies get a fourth nonconference game because they visit Hawaii, per special NCAA rule, and they, well, make sure they start the Chris Petersen era 4-0. Wouldn't it be great if that were, say, "Georgia" intend of Georgia State?

6. Oregon State: Aug. 30, Portland State (6-6)*; Sept. 6, Hawaii (1-11); Sept. 20, San Diego State (8-5)

At least San Diego State has a pulse -- the Aztecs gave the Beavers a lot of trouble last year at home. And Oregon State knows it shouldn't take any team lightly -- see opening losses to FCS teams in two out of the previous three years. But this is a weak slate.