USC, Cal, Washington among Phil Steele's toughest 2015 college football schedules

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No one ever said that winning a Pac-12 or national championship was easy, but according to one writer, it's going to be this much harder for five schools out west in 2015.

According to college football analyst and writer Phil Steele, five Pac-12 teams are on the list of what he says are the 10 toughest schedules for the upcoming 2015 season.

On his list: the USC Trojans, the California Golden Bears, the Washington Huskies, the Utah Utes and the Stanford Cardinal.

USC's 2015 gauntlet includes nine teams who were bowl eligible in 2015, road dates at Notre Dame and Oregon as well as a slate of conference games that includes rival UCLA, defending Pac-12 South champ Arizona and a road test at Arizona State, who knocked them off at home last year on a dramatic Hail Mary.

California's quest to return to bowl eligibility not only includes nine bowl eligible teams but also an early season trip to Austin to take on the Texas Longhorns. Trips to boisterous atmospheres such as Washington, Utah, UCLA and Oregon are also on the calendar.

Year No. 2 of the Chris Peteren experience at Washington starts with a bang in a trip to the smurf turf to take on Boise State. 10-win Utah State makes a trip to Montlake to round out non-conference play, and their South division opponents do them no favors. They'll take on USC, Arizona, Utah and Arizona State this season in out-of-division match-ups. What's more, Washington's opponents racked up 101 wins in 2014, more than any other team's opponents in America, according to Steele.

The non-conference schedule for Utah does them no favors – Michigan makes its return trip in the debut of Jim Harbaugh on the Wolverines' sidelines, and that's followed by a visit from Utah State and a trip to Fresno State. In conference play, the Utes will travel to Oregon, USC, Washington, while OSU makes an out-of-division trip to Salt Lake City after last year's overtime thriller. Oh, and did you know that both Utah and Oregon State will be featured on "The Drive" this season?

Just one year removed from back-to-back Pac-12 titles, the Stanford Cardinal open with a trip to Evanston to take on Northwestern before taking on 9-win Central Florida and powerful USC in consecutive weeks. 

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