We analyzed and graded bye weeks for the South Division just an hour ago!
So here we go with the North Division.
California: Sept. 21 (before visit to Oregon) and Nov. 30 (last weekend of season)
Skinny: We previously wrote that the "worst weekend for a bye is the opening weekend" in regard to Arizona State's draw. The second worst is the season's final weekend, unless your team is playing in the Pac-12 title game. We don't think that will happen this fall for Cal, so the second bye is pretty worthless. The first is good in terms of timing -- fourth week, before the Pac-12 schedule starts, after a tough game with Ohio State. But the Bears are going to be a big longshot at Oregon, and the Ducks are off the same week, neutralizing any Cal advantage. It would be better for the bye to precede a game that feels more winnable. Further, after that bye, the Bears play nine weeks in a row.
Grade? D+. Just one more challenge for what might be the nation's toughest schedule.
Oregon: Sept. 21 (before visit from California) and Nov. 2 (before visit to Stanford)
Skinny: This is a solid set-up in terms of breaking up the season into manageable bits (three games, five games, four games). It's also nice to have an off week before beginning Pac-12 play. And, obviously, it would seem to benefit the Ducks to have a bye before facing Stanford. But that advantage is written off by the Cardinal also having the same off weekend before the critical Thursday night clash.
Grade? B. The best part of the bye arrangement is the placement of the off-weeks. This would be an "A" if Stanford didn't share the same second bye week before the meeting on the Farm.
Oregon State: Oct. 5 (before visit to Washington State) and Nov. 9 (before visit to Arizona State)
Skinny: This is a pretty fantastic setup. The Beavers play five games (bye), four games (bye) and then three games. That's close to ideal, mostly because there are no brutal runs of, say, nine games in a row. A bye before the Cougars isn't as good as a bye before Stanford, USC or Oregon, but it comes after an initial stretch that suggests a 5-0 start, which likely would come with a high national ranking. Not a bad time to take a breath. Then, after tough consecutive home games against Stanford and USC, the Beavers get a weekend to rest before a visit to the Sun Devils sets up a tough troika down the home stretch (ASU, Washington at Oregon).
Grade: A-. The schedule is backloaded, but the bye-week arrangements work well for the season's big picture.
Stanford: August 31 (opening weekend before visit from San Jose State) and Nov. 2 (before Oregon).
Skinny: As previously noted, the worst weekend for a bye is the opening weekend. Then the Cardinal plays eight games in a row. And, as previously noted, the bye before the potentially epic Oregon matchup is zeroed-out by the Ducks also being off. In other words, Stanford's bye arrangement provides no advantage. The only positive is getting a week to heal before the tough finish: Oregon, at USC, Cal and Notre Dame.
Grade? C-. It could be worse, but Stanford is done no favors by the arrangement of off weeks.
Washington: Sept. 7 (before visit to Illinois) and Nov. 2 (before visit from Colorado)
Skinny: If the first weekend is the worst for a bye, the second shouldn't be much better. On the other hand, the matchup with Boise State in a remodeled Husky Stadium should be loaded with pre-game hype, so a break after that emotional showdown -- win or lose -- might be a good thing. The second off weekend comes after seven consecutive games, so a break will feel good. But there's not much advantage in having the next foe be Colorado.
Grade? C. Not terrible, just not ideal.
Washington State: Oct 26 (before a visit from Arizona State) and Nov. 9 (before a visit to Arizona)
Skinny: This one is pretty strange. The Cougars play eight games before getting a weekend off. Then they get another bye a week later. They are the last team in the Pac-12 to get a bye. Arizona is the only other team to have both byes come in a three-week span, with the Wildcats going early season and the Cougs going late. Further, any advantage gained from extra prep for Arizona State is offset by the Sun Devils also having an Oct. 26 bye. The off week before the Wildcats, however, might set up nicely for an upset special.
Grade? D+. Washington State, in Year 2 under Mike Leach, could use some scheduling help. The off weeks don't offer much.