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Arizona football: Ranking the toughest games on Arizona's schedule this season

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12 weeks, 12 games

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1) at USC, Saturday, November 7th (Week 10)

Both the media and myself have USC as the Pac-12 Conference Champions. After playing nine straight weeks up to this point, it's going to be a tough road game for Arizona. Heading to Los Angeles, on a grass field, which has statistically caused Rich Rodriguez trouble since taking over at Arizona.

2) at Arizona State, Saturday, November 21st (Week 12)

A game played in Sun Devil Stadium, much less a rivalry game, is tough. It'll be interesting to see how their seating arrangements affect their noise level, going from a total capacity of 71,706 to 65,870, with the student section essentially being split in half. Since this is the last game of the season, Arizona has to be healthy at this point, with this game possibly having Pac-12 South Champion implications.

3) UCLA, Saturday, September 26th (Week 4)

UCLA is by far the most experienced team in the Pac-12, returning 17 of their starters on both sides of the ball. But the big question mark is their quarterback situation. With Josh Rosen as the starter, Arizona has the advantage of playing them in Week 4, which doesn't give Rosen a whole lot of time to get his feet under him.

4) Utah, Saturday, November 14th (Week 11)

Utah has never really given Arizona too much trouble since Rich Rodriguez has come to town, but they're definitely no longer a push over in the Pac-12. They return quite a few starters, including arguably the Pac-12's best back, Devontae Booker. Whether Travis Wilson, who's been injury prone his whole life, or former Oklahoma quarterback Kendal Thompson is under center, they'll have a solid quarterback running the show. Thankfully, there's no more Kaelin Clay or Nate Orchard.

5) at Stanford, Saturday, October 3rd (Week 5)

Another grass surface to trip up Arizona here. I'm not a huge believer in Kevin Hogan, even with Christian McCaffrey in the backfield and Austin Hooper, Michael Rector and Francis Owusu out wide. What has Stanford been known for over the past four or five years? Defense. And that's where they're taking a big hit this year, going without eight of their starters from 2014, and 10 of their top 14 leading tacklers. It'll be Canyon del Oro product Blake Martinez holding it down on the defense.

6) at Washington, Saturday, October 31st (Week 9)

A potential night game, on Halloween night, with chilly and possibly rainy conditions can't bode well for Arizona. Washington should have their quarterback situation settled by Week 9, but their offensive line will be almost entirely brand new and they don't have that playmaker on offense quite yet. They also lose three All-Americans on defense in Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson, and Marcus Peters. But it's not so much the talent that will give Arizona trouble, but the weather conditions and raucous noise levels.

7) Oregon State, Saturday, October 10th (Week 6)

Returning almost their entire offense, minus four-year starting quarterback Sean Mannion, it's hard to imagine Gary Andersen finding much success in year one at Oregon State. Much like Stanford, they lose a lot of their defensive starters. A home game during the middle of the season, hopefully when Arizona starts getting in tip-top form, should be no problem. Between Washington and Oregon State, I would expect a huge drop off in talent.

8) at Colorado, Saturday, October 17th (Week 7)

It was almost a tossup for the 8th spot between Colorado and Washington State, but I'll give Colorado and Mike MacIntyre the advantage. Colorado at least has a playmaker in Nelson Spruce, who will be Sefo Liufau's number one target. Arizona catches a break that this is the road game against the mountain schools, but this is an improving Colorado team, though it shouldn't give Arizona much trouble at all. We hope.

9) Washington State, Saturday October 24th (Week 8)

Hopefully this gets rid of the sour taste in our mouths from the last time Washington State came to Tucson. WSU had the nation's number one passing offense, whether it may be because of their playbook, or the fact that they probably trailed for over 75% of their entire season. Luke Falk won't have much to work with, but he will be slinging it behind an experienced offensive line. Washington State is still a bottom feeder in the Pac-12 and it doesn't look like Mike Leach is going to change that soon.

10) at Nevada, Saturday, September 12th (Week 2)

Cody Fajardo is finally gone, which will give Nevada a new quarterback for the first time since 2010. Nevada is usually a decent 7-5 team that remains competitive in a lot of their games. It's an early road game for Arizona, which makes this the most "difficult" non-conference game on the schedule.

11) NAU, Saturday, September 19th (Week 3)

NAU has a pretty decent group of guys coming back for 2015. Their quarterback play might be an issue, which is probably why Connor Brewer once decided to transfer to Flagstaff. They do have a young stable of running backs and their receivers will likely be led by former 3-star athlete out of Hamilton High School (Chandler, AZ), Kendyl Taylor, who transferred from Washington after just two seasons. He's an explosive playmaker and will probably be the do-it-all guy for the 'Jacks. Their defense seems to be a mixed bag as of now, and it's hard to imagine them bringing a stout defense.

12) UTSA, Thursday, September 3rd (week 1)

UTSA lost 38 seniors from 2014 and will return five total starters. This is the home opener for the defending Pac-12 South Champions, and if this isn't a four possession game by the 3rd quarter, it could be a problem.