The 2021 Pac-12 non-conference season provided a couple of impressive highs amid a bevy of lows. UCLA's defeat of LSU and Oregon's road win at Ohio State a week later scored some much-needed cachet for the conference, but the Mountain West's continued success against Pac-12 opponents and BYU's perfect mark against the league showed just how much room the conference still has to grow.
Most Intriguing Non-Conference Games of 2022 by Power 5 Conference: ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC
In 2022, Pac-12 teams face a variety of strong opponents from around the country. The league's most intriguing games include showdowns against the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, and even the FCS.
10. Arizona vs. North Dakota State, Sept. 17
Arizona plays an absolutely brutal non-conference schedule in 2022 that includes a home date against the SEC's Mississippi State Bulldogs. After that contest is the perhaps more interesting matchup, however, pitting the Wildcats against FCS juggernaut North Dakota State.
The Bison have dominated Power 5 competition in the past decade, beating teams from the Big Ten like Minnesota and Big 12 opponents Kansas State and Iowa State. Arizona will have a tall order keeping NDSU from adding a Pac-12 pelt to its collection.
9. Arizona at San Diego State, Sept. 3
Year 2 of the Jedd Fisch era at Arizona kicks off at San Diego State, a perennial contender for the Mountain West championship and Pac-12 killer. Oh, and the Aztecs are opening their brand-new stadium with UA's visit.
The Show should have Montezuma Mesa rocking for the first of two San Diego State games against the Pac-12. On the flip side, Arizona gets a Week 1 test of just how much its offseason roster overhaul improved the Wildcats after a 2021 that included a blowout loss to SDSU.
8. California at Notre Dame, Sept. 17
Cal and Notre Dame have not played since 1967 when the Fighting Irish won the fourth of four matchups in eight years. Notre Dame held the Golden Bears to single-digit points in each of those contests.
More than a half-century later, Cal heads to South Bend looking for a statement win in an important season for head coach Justin Wilcox.
7. Washington vs. Michigan State, Sept. 17
Kalen DeBoer's debut campaign heading up the Huskies includes Michigan State's visit to Montlake. Mel Tucker, who spent the 2019 season in the Pac-12 at Colorado, had the Spartans in the Big Ten title hunt in 2021; expect Michigan State to be in the mix again in 2022, even without Kenneth Walker III.
6. Washington State at Wisconsin, Sept. 10
Washington State finished a tumultuous 2021 strong after Jake Dickert took over as interim coach. Now the official head coach of the Cougars, Dickert leads the 2022 squad into one of the loudest venues in the country for a Pac-12 vs. Big Ten showdown.
5. USC vs. Notre Dame, Nov. 26
One of the sport's definitive rivalries returns to Los Angeles for the first time since 2018 when Notre Dame closes the season at USC. COVID put the kibosh on a Fighting Irish trip to the Coliseum in 2020, and Notre Dame extended its winning streak in the series to four games with consecutive home victories bookending a playoff-clinching contest at USC in 2018.
With both programs welcoming first-year head coaches in 2022, this installment of the series promises to be especially intriguing.
4. Arizona State at Oklahoma State, Sept. 10
A pivotal season in the future direction of Arizona State football takes the Sun Devils to Stillwater for a marquee matchup. Oklahoma State was one of the breakout teams of the 2021 season, coming mere inches from a Big 12 championship (and possible College Football Playoff berth) before winning a dramatic Fiesta Bowl.
The Cowboys reload what was an outstanding defense with the addition of former Stanford coordinator Derek Mason to head up the unit. Oklahoma State will be a telling measuring stick of the 2022 Sun Devils ahead of Pac-12 play.
3. Oregon vs. BYU, Sept. 17
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake dismissed the social-media buzz following the Cougars' regular season-concluding win at USC, but a perfect record against Pac-12 competition prompted declarations of unofficial conference championships from some of the team's fans.
BYU again plays a schedule heavy on Pac-12 opponents, and with the Holy War rivalry against Utah off the docket, the most intriguing contest sends the Cougars to Eugene. Oregon, having played in three straight Pac-12 Championship Games, is a fitting banner-carrier for the league against an opponent that's made its mark on the Pac.
2. Utah at Florida, Sept. 3
As the old saying goes, kinda: Better (14 years) late than never.
Florida won the 2008 season's BCS championship, but Utah closed that season as the sole unbeaten in all of Div. I. Even though Kyle Whittingham remains the head coach at Utah, the rosters of the 2022 Utes and Gators were in preschool and elementary school back then so the dispute of that title isn't exactly relevant.
However, venturing into SEC country and The Swamp could go a long way to shaping a potential championship push from the reigning Pac-12 champion Utes.
1. Oregon vs. Georgia (Atlanta), Sept. 3
New Oregon head coach Dan Lanning begins his tenure with the Ducks against the program he helped to a national championship as defensive coordinator.
Although Georgia loses some key pieces from last season's title run including Lanning, the Bulldogs have more than enough to reload for another playoff push. Facing them in an ostensible road game will be an illuminating insight into the 2022 Ducks' title prospects.
— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @KyleKensing.