The Pac-12 on Thursday released the kickoff times/TV networks for the opening three weeks and a smattering of games throughout the season.
Three big-picture thoughts …
1. The precious few
The Pac-12 has 11 opportunities to frame the national narrative, to show pundits and College Football Playoff committee members alike that its best teams are worthy of playoff consideration.
In other words: Dates on big-reach TV networks against Power Five (or elite Group of Five) opponents.
Oklahoma State at Oregon State: FS1
Northwestern at Stanford: FOX
Oregon vs. Auburn: ABC
Nebraska at Colorado: FOX
Stanford at UCF: ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
Arizona State at Michigan State: FOX
Oklahoma at UCLA: FOX
Texas Tech at Arizona: ESPN
Cal at Mississippi
USC at Notre Dame: NBC
Notre Dame at Stanford: TBA
Victories aren’t quite enough for the Pac-12. To get maximum benefit, the vanquished teams must then produce solid seasons within their conferences.
2. The Cougar Component (not those Cougars)
Also: The Pac-12 needs Brigham Young to not stink.
Three teams with the potential to compete for at-large berths in the New Year’s Six bowls (Washington, Utah and USC) will face the Cougars this season.
Those NY6 berths are determined by the selection committee, which considers strength-of-schedule when creating its rankings.
An eight- or nine-win season from BYU could elevate Pac-12 resumes, just as a face plant in Provo could undermine those resumes.
That’s particularly true of the Utes and Huskies. Neither has a marquee non-conference game to power its SOS.
3. The Pac-12 Networks’ schedule
The lineup is less than riveting, with the following opponents appearing on the networks:
Kent State, Eastern Washington, UC Davis, New Mexico State, Sacramento State, Northern Colorado, Northern Arizona, North Texas, Cal Poly, Idaho State and Montana.
Those broadcasts are for junkies only.
That said, the networks have five matchups featuring Group of Five opponents that create a morsel or two of drama:
- Northern Illinois at Utah
- San Diego State at UCLA
- Nevada at Oregon
- Air Force at Colorado
- Hawaii at Washington