2023 PAC-12 Schedules, Commentary and Analysis

March 28, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

College football schedules in the PAC-12 Conference are in place for the final season under the current configuration of teams. Next summer, USC and UCLA, will officially depart for the Big Ten and the PAC-12 has yet to replace the highly-valued pair of institutions.

USC and UCLA are two of the top brands in the PAC-12, and they are both in the huge Los Angeles market. The conference can not 'replace' their value, but can do its' best to to add schools that regularly compete with PAC-12 programs.

The most viable options in that vein come within the state of California - San Diego State and Fresno State - both of which are currently in the Mountain West.

Another MWC team, Boise State, would also make sense.

This year, Washington hosts Boise State on 9/2 and UCLA visits San Diego State on 9/9. On 9/16, Arizona State will host Fresno State, while Oregon State gives San Diego State a second straight PAC-12 game when the teams collide in Corvallis on September 16.

Time is wasting away on the conference's ability to invite and sign new teams prior to USC and UCLA's departure.

For this season, the conference reaps the benefit of a having a newly-arrived media magnet among its head coaches. Of course, we are referring to Deion Sanders at Colorado whose arrival has buoyed ticket sales, but over/under win total projections of only 4.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook.

The PAC-12 also happens to feature the quarterback who won the 2022 Heisman Trophy, USC's Caleb Williams. It's no surprise that he leads the list of Heisman betting favorites in 2023, though he will be without first-round NFL Draft prospect WR Jordan Addison. He was the 2021 Biltenikoff winner at Pittsburgh before transferring to the Trojans last season.

Expect to see a lot of familiar faces around the league as a relatively small number of stars are in the draft. Joining Addison in the group of projected first-rounders are Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez and Utah TE Dalton Kincaid.

There are a total of 36 non-conference games on the 2023 non-conference slates, and only 12 feature contests versus Power Five schools, including Stanford and USC's usual rivalry games against Notre Dame.

There are 16 games against Group of Five opponents (mostly Mountain West schools), and 9 teams will host a FCS program - Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, Utah and Washington State.

USC and San Jose State will open the 2023 season in week zero in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 26.

All 12 teams will see action in Week One which will take place over the Labor Day holiday weekend, between Thursday, August 31 and Saturday, September 2.

Coach Prime's Buffaloes will debut that Saturday at TCU in the biggest marquee game for a PAC-12 school. Two other battles to keep an eye on that weekend have Utah hosting Florida on Thursday, and the aforementioned Boise State-Washington game on Saturday.

Aside from Sanders, the PAC-12 also welcomes Kenny Dillingham as the new man in charge at Arizona State, and Troy Taylor at Stanford. (See Coaching Changes). Dillingham's first game with the Sun Devils will come at home against FCS member Southern Utah on 8/31, but the Cardinal will kick off the Taylor era in the Pacific island paradise of Hawaii on 9/1.

Conference play will get started in Week Two as Stanford travels to USC on Saturday, September 10, but the first full weekend of conference action comes in the final weekend of September.

The PAC-12 Championship, presented by 76, will be held in Las Vegas for a third consecutive season at the the home of the Oakland Raiders, Allegiant Stadium. The game is scheduled for Friday, December 1, two days prior to the final four-team selection for the College Football Playoff. The CFP expands to 12 teams in 2024.

Team-by-Team Schedules

Here are the full schedules for each team, in alphabetical order.

9/2 Northern Arizona (FCS)
9/9 at Mississippi State
9/16 UTEP
9/23 at Stanford
9/30 Washington
10/7 at USC
10/14 at Washington State
10/28 Oregon State
11/4 UCLA
11/11 at Colorado
11/18 Utah
11/25 at Arizona State

NOTES: The Wildcats open against a NAU team that the just lost to, 21-18, to start the 2021 season. They are 14-2 in the series that dates back to 1931. They have never played at NAU in Flagstaff.

Arizona lost 39-17 at home to Mississippi State a year ago in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. This year, the 'Cats return the favor and visit Starkville.

The final non-conference game brings UTEP to town for the first matchup with the Miners since a 63-16 win in El Paso in 2017, which also happens to be the last season that Arizona posted a winning record for the season (7-6).

In conference action, Arizona does not play California or Oregon.

8/31 Southern Utah (FCS)
9/9 Oklahoma State
9/16 Fresno State
9/23 USC
9/30 at California
10/7 Colorado
10/21 at Washington
10/28 Washington State
11/4 at Utah
11/11 at UCLA
11/18 Oregon
11/25 Arizona

New Head Coach: Kenny Dillingham was announced as the new head coach on Sunday, November 27. He became the official replacement for Herm Edwards who was fired on September 18 after a 30-21 upset loss at home to Eastern Michigan had dropped the Sun Devils to 1-2. Running backs coach Shaun Aguano went 2-7 as the interim head coach for the rest of the season.

Dillingham is a 2013 ASU graduate who, began coaching at age 17 when he tore his ACL at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale. After graduation, he became an offensive assistant with the Sun Devils for 2014 and 2015. He then bounced around the country with several schools including Florida State and Auburn as offensive coordinator and QB coach. He served in those capacities this season at Oregon.

NOTES: Dillingham gets 4 straight home games to start his ASU tenure. The opener will be the Sun Devils' first meeting with Southern Utah since a 62-31 win in 2018, and second ever against the Thunderbirds.

The second opponent completes a home-and-home arrangement with Oklahoma State after the Sun Devils lost 34-17 in Stillwater last year. Arizona State won matchups in 1993 and 1991, and lost in 1984. The series is tied 2-2.

The Sun Devils also lost the last meeting with Fresno State with a 31-20 setback in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2018. ASU had won the previous three meetings that all took place between 1931 and 1941.

In conference action, Arizona State does not play Oregon State or Stanford.

9/2 at North Texas
9/9 Auburn
9/16 Idaho (FCS)
9/23 at Washington
9/30 Arizona State
10/7 Oregon State
10/14 at Utah
10/28 USC
11/4 at Oregon
11/11 Washington State
11/18 at Stanford
11/25 at UCLA

NOTES: The standout game on the non-conference slate is the home battle with Auburn in week 2 that begins a home-and-home deal with the Tigers that was arranged back in 2016. The Bears go to Auburn next year.

The visit to North Texas for the opener could be trouble as UNT has won 7 of its last 8 home games. The only other meeting came at home in 2019 with Cal escaping with a 23-17 victory after taking a 20-0 first quarter lead.

Week 3 will be Cal's first meeting with Idaho since 1934 when the Bears won a 4th straight meeting in four consecutive seasons.

In conference action, Cal does not play Arizona or Colorado.

9/2 at TCU
9/9 Nebraska
9/16 Colorado State
9/23 at Oregon
9/30 USC
10/7 at Arizona State
10/13 Stanford
10/28 at UCLA
11/4 Oregon State
11/11 Arizona
11/17 at Washington State
11/25 at Utah

New Head Coach: A little-known head coach and former player who has zero national appeal was hired on Saturday, December 3 as the new head coach of the Buffaloes.

But seriously, Deion Sanders' hiring by Colorado was one of the biggest news items of the 2022 offseason. Sanders spent just two seasons at Jackson State where he guided the Tigers to records of 27-5 over-all and 19-2 in the SWAC. It was first head coaching job at any level. Colorado fired Karl Dorrell on October 2 after an 0-5 start and a 8-15 mark in his 23 games in Boulder. At the time of his dismissal, the Buffaloes were one of just two winless teams in the FBS. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, Jr. took over as interim head coach and went 1-6.

NOTES: Sanders' debut as head coach will happen at TCU on September 2. This will be TCU's first game since getting trounced by Georgia in the National Championship. His home debut comes the following week against Nebraska, followed by the first rivalry meeting with Colorado State since 2019.

TCU won 38-13 in Boulder last year. Colorado last played Nebraska in 2019 and won 34-31 at home in overtime after rallying from a 17-0 halftime deficit. The Buffs also beat the 'Huskers in 2018 in Lincoln by a 33-28 count on a 40-yard TD pass with 1:06 tom play.

In conference action, Colorado does not play Cal or Washington.

9/2 Portland State (FCS)
9/9 at Texas Tech
9/16 Hawaii
9/23 Colorado
9/30 at Stanford
10/14 at Washington
10/21 Washington State
10/28 at Utah
11/4 California
11/11 USC
11/18 at Arizona State
11/24 Oregon State

NOTES: Oregon gets the Beavers at home for the Civil War after a 38-34 loss at Corvallis last year that helped seal the fate of the conference getting eliminated from any chance of consideration the college football playoff. The Ducks haven't lost to their rival at home since 2005 and lead the series 67-49-10.

In conference action, Oregon does not play Arizona or UCLA.

9/2 at San Jose State
9/9 UC Davis (FCS)
9/16 San Diego State
9/23 at Washington State
9/29 Utah
10/7 at California
10/14 UCLA
10/28 at Arizona
11/4 at Colorado
11/11 Stanford
11/18 Washington
11/24 at Oregon

NOTES: Oregon State outscored Oregon 28-3 in a 10-minute and 46-second span bridging the 3rd and 4th quarters to beat the Ducks 38-34 in Corvallis after digging a 31-10 hole.

The non-conference slate features a pair of games against Mountain West teams as the Beavers open on the road against San Jose State and host San Diego State in week 3. Oregon State last played the Spartans in 2015, and the Aztecs in 2014. The Beavs haven't lost to either since a 17-13 setback in 1982 to SJSU when Steve Clarkson was a star QB at that school. The only losses to the Aztecs came in the first two meetings in 1972 and 1975 and Oregon State has won 4 straight since then.

In conference action, Oregon State does not play Arizona State or USC.

9/1 at Hawaii
9/9 at USC
9/16 Sacramento State (FCS)
9/23 Arizona
9/30 Oregon
10/13 at Colorado
10/21 UCLA
10/28 Washington
11/4 at Washington State
11/11 at Oregon State
11/18 California
11/25 Notre Dame

New Head Coach: Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor was announced on Saturday, December 10 as David Shaw's successor after Taylor's Hornets fell 66-63 to Incarnate Word in the FCS Playoff quarterfinals. Shaw resigned on November 26 after the Cardinal finished their 3-9 season with a 35-26 loss at home to BYU. He was 96-54 in 12 seasons with a conference mark of 65-40. Shaw led the Cardinal to three conference titles and 8 bowl games in his first 8 seasons, but the program had slipped to 14-28 over the last four seasons. Taylor led Sacramento State to a 30-8 record in three full seasons from 2019-2022. His resume of over 25 years of experience incudes mostly jobs in California at both the collegiate and high school levels in the San Francisco Bay area.

NOTES: Taylor will have face his old school in the third game of his new head coaching tenure at Stanford. The Cardinal won the only previous meeting with the Hornets 52-17 in 2010 with Andrew Luck as a freshman QB.

Stanford continues with its traditional non-conference games against USC in Los Angeles on 9/9, and at home against Notre Dame in the season finale on November 25.

The Cardinal will host "The Big Game" against Cal on November 18.

In conference action, Stanford does not play Arizona State or Utah.

9/2 Coastal Carolina
9/9 at San Diego State
9/16 North Carolina Central (FCS)
9/23 at Utah
10/7 Washington State
10/14 at Oregon State
10/21 at Stanford
10/28 Colorado
11/4 at Arizona
11/11 Arizona State
11/18 at USC
11/25 California

NOTES: UCLA got off to an 8-1 start last year, then dropped 3 of its last 4. The Sun Bowl was lost 37-35 as QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson started the game but left with a lower back injury after throwing his 3rd INT early in the fourth. UCLA took a 35-34 lead with 34 seconds left, only to see Ben Sauls kick a fifth field goal for the final score and a UCLA defeat.

The Bruins will open their final season in the PAC-12 against a Coastal Carolina program that will be led by new head coach Tim Beck after Jamey Chadwell left for Liberty. Then, it's off to San Diego State to avenge a 23-14 loss at home in 2019 that ended a 21-0-1 domination of the Aztecs.

NC Central comes to Pasadena in week 3. The FCS school knocked off Deion Sanders' Jackson State at last year's Celebration Bowl that annually features the HBCU's top teams from the SWAC and MEAC.

In conference action, UCLA does not play Oregon or Washington.

8/26 San Jose State
9/2 Nevada
9/9 Stanford
9/23 at Arizona State
9/30 at Colorado
10/7 Arizona
10/14 at Notre Dame
10/21 Utah
10/28 at California
11/4 Washington
11/11 at Oregon
11/18 UCLA

NOTES: Lincoln Riley's first season as head coach saw the Trojans improve to 11-3 compared to 4-8 the year before he arrived. But a possible run at the national championship disappeared when the Trojans were blasted 47-24 by Utah in the PAC-12 Championship game.

In conference action, USC does not play Oregon State or Washington State. Utah won the regular season meeting 43-42 in Salt Lake City. YSC then went on to lose 46-45 to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl.

USC gets an early jump on the 2023 season with a week zero date at home against San Jose State. The Trojans then host Nevada before opening their final PAC-12 slate at home against rival Stanford.

8/31 Florida
9/9 at Baylor
9/16 Weber State (FCS)
9/23 UCLA
9/29 at Oregon State
10/14 California
10/21 at USC
10/28 Oregon
11/4 Arizona State
11/11 at Washington
11/18 at Arizona
11/25 Colorado

NOTES: The two-time defending conference champions open the season at home against Florida as the Utes look to avenge a shocking loss in Gainesville to start last year's campaign.

Week 2 sees a trip to Baylor for the first meeting between the two schools, followed by FCS member Weber State's 7th attempt to beat Utah (0-6).

In conference action, Utah does not play Stanford or Washington State.

9/2 Boise State
9/9 Tulsa
9/16 at Michigan State
9/23 California
9/30 at Arizona
10/14 Oregon
10/21 Arizona State
10/28 at Stanford
11/4 at USC
11/11 Utah
11/18 at Oregon State
11/25 Washington State

NOTES: The Huskies will open against Boise State in the sixth meeting of the series which Washington leads 3-2. The next week is the first-ever meeting with Tulsa before the Huskies travel Michigan State to close out the non-conference portion of the schedule. Washington was a 39-28 winner at home over the Spartans in week 3 of last season.

In conference action, Washington does not play Colorado or UCLA.

9/2 at Colorado State
9/9 Wisconsin
9/16 Northern Colorado (FCS)
9/23 Oregon State
10/7 at UCLA
10/14 Arizona
10/21 at Oregon
10/28 at Arizona State
11/4 Stanford
11/11 at California
11/17 Colorado
11/25 at Washington

NOTES: Jake Dickert has been a somewhat surprising 10-8 at Washington State as head coach since Nick Rolovich's dismissal midway through the 2021 season. However, last year's 7-6 campaign ended with the Cougars going in reverse as they fell 51-33 in the Apple Cup and were rolled 29-6 by Fresno State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

Washington State will open the 2023 season on the road at Colorado State, and open at home the following week against a Wisconsin team that will be led by new head coach Luke Fickell.

In conference action, Washington State does not play USC or Utah.