Comparing Oregon’s 2023 football schedule to USC

Pac-12 schedule release day was exciting.

The 2023 football schedule was officially released on Wednesday morning in a Pac-12 Network exclusive, and there are plenty of eye-popping games, including the Trojans facing Colorado in Deion Sanders’ first Pac-12 home game. 

We already examined the USC Trojans schedule, and it includes a brutal end to the season despite having an off week before the Pac-12 title game.

Zachary Neel of Ducks Wire listed the schedule for Oregon, and yes, the Ducks face USC this time around — in Eugene.

Here is a look at the Ducks’ schedule for Dan Lanning’s second season with the program. You will see the many ways in which this schedule is easier than USC’s, which is no accident or idle coincidence:

SEPTEMBER 2: VS PORTLAND STATE VIKINGS

Sep 10, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Portland State Vikings quarterback Dante Chachere (15) attempts a pass as he is pressured by Washington Huskies linebacker Cam Bright (2) during the first half at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

This is a cupcake, but of course, USC has cupcakes early on its schedule, too.

SEPTEMBER 9: TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Dec 28, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Tyler Shough (12) smiles on the field after the Red Raiders defeated the Mississippi Rebels in the 2022 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This is actually a situation in which Oregon scheduled with a little more ambition out of conference. However, we know that USC has the built-in nonconference game against Notre Dame later on the schedule, so it’s not as though the Ducks are taking an enormous risk here. A risk? Yes. Just not an enormous one — that was last year against Georgia.

SEPTEMBER 16: VS HAWAII RAINBOW WARRIORS

Nov 5, 2022; Fresno, California, USA; Hawaii Rainbow Warriors running back Tylan Hines (24) runs the ball against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the fourth quarter at Valley Children’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Because Oregon scheduled the Texas Tech game, it wasn’t going to schedule another really tough nonconference game. That’s simply being smart on the Ducks’ part.

SEPTEMBER 23: VS COLORADO BUFFALOES

Oct 29, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback J.T. Shrout (5) prepares to pass the ball in the first quarter against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Zachary Neel of Ducks Wire very smartly pointed out that the Pac-12 wants Colorado to face the Pac-12’s elite programs earlier in the season, not later, so that the conference gets more eyeballs on Deion Sanders. It makes sense.

SEPTEMBER 30: AT STANFORD CARDINAL

Sep 10, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back E.J. Smith (22) during the first quarter against the USC Trojans at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon and USC both play Stanford in September. Both the Ducks and USC have soft conference schedules in the first half of the season, before the backloaded slate kicks in.

OCTOBER 14: AT WASHINGTON HUSKIES

Nov 12, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) throws a pass during the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Key point: You’ll notice Oregon is off on Oct. 7. The Ducks get a week off before their huge game in Seattle. USC does not get a week off before its biggest games. The Pac-12 Championship Game is not a locked-in part of USC’s schedule. The Trojans have to win their way into that 13th game. It’s not the same as one of the 12 games every team will play during the regular season.

OCTOBER 21: VS WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS

Nov 13, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Jake Dickert walks out to the field during a time out in the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon gets Washington State one week before Utah on Oct. 28. USC plays Notre Dame on Oct. 14, one week before playing Utah. USC’s path is tougher, and the Pac-12 could not find a way to put Utah in a different spot for the Trojans. Sept. 23 would have made sense. Utah plays Weber State the week before on Sept. 16.

Oregon clearly got more cushions between its biggest games. USC and Utah were not afforded that same benefit.

OCTOBER 28: AT UTAH UTES

Nov 5, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes running back Tavion Thomas (9) runs the ball against Arizona Wildcats defensive lineman Kyon Barrs (92) in the fourth quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Utah plays USC one week before this game. Utah was done no favors here, much as the Trojans aren’t being done any favors by having to play Notre Dame and Utah in back-to-back weeks.

NOVEMBER 4: VS CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS

Dec 4, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox looks on during the third quarter against the USC Trojans at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Again, Oregon gets a buffer between big games. Cal separates the Utah game on Oct. 28 and the USC game on Nov. 11. USC is playing Washington on Nov. 4 and then Oregon on Nov. 11, without any buffer.

NOVEMBER 11: VS USC TROJANS

Sep 3, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley (left) and quarterback Caleb Williams (center) and outside wide receivers coach Dennis Simmons pose after a game against the Rice Owls at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC plays Washington one week before Oregon.

Oregon plays Cal one week before USC. Advantage, Ducks. Again.

NOVEMBER 18: AT ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham calls out to players during practice with the Ducks on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Oregon’s November schedule is easier than USC’s November schedule.

NOVEMBER 24: VS OREGON STATE BEAVERS

Nov 27, 2020; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Oregon State Beavers running back Jermar Jefferson (6) eludes Oregon Ducks defensive tackle Brandon Dorlus (97) during the first half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

This game is on Friday, making sure Oregon gets more rest for the Pac-12 Championship Game if it gets there. USC has an advantage over Oregon if it makes the Pac-12 title game and faces the Ducks, but USC will have a tough time getting to Las Vegas. The Trojans have to play nine straight weeks (Week 4 through Week 12). Oregon has a midseason off week which creates better balance on its schedule.

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire