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Pac-12 could approve teams to play non-conference games, but it's tricky

Like the Big Ten and other late arrivers to this strange season, when the Pac-12 revived its season it did so without playing non-conference games. This was a continuation of what the league indicated back in July. In July that decision was made out of pragmatism and safety -- maximum and control of flexibility over the schedule with no non-conference games on the schedule. In October, it was born out of necessity -- in starting Nov. 7, there was simply no time to play non-conference games, and no takers.

Turns out, three weeks into its abbreviated season, the Pac-12 has time and takers.

Two games were canceled in each of the Pac-12's first two weeks, and we've already got one in Week 3.

This has led to discussions among Pac-12 ADs about permitting schools to find non-conference opponents if their opponents are unable to play. Jon Wilner reported Wednesday for the San Jose Mercury-Newsthat the AD group is on board with the idea, provided it receives approval from league presidents and chancellors.

FootballScoop can add that Colorado State has held preliminary discussions about lining up Colorado in the event the Rams' scheduled date with UNLV for this Saturday falls through. Colorado's home date with Arizona State for this coming Saturday has already been canceled and will not be made up.

The problem for the Pac-12 seems to be one of arithmetic and uncertainty.

If Colorado happens to be the odd team out for Nov. 21, then it makes all the sense in the world for the Buffs to play rival Colorado State, provided CSU can meet testing protocols the Pac-12 deems appropriate.

But what if another game falls through? For example, Utah did not play Nov. 7 or 14, and it's up in the air whether the Utes will have enough available bodies to play USC this coming Saturday.

If Utah can't play, the Pac-12 could move the Nov. 28 USC-Colorado game up to Nov. 21, then possibly play USC-Utah on Nov. 28.

What if the Pac-12 approves Colorado to play Colorado State on Wednesday, and then Utah announces Thursday it can't play? Does the Pac-12 force CU to cancel on Colorado State and play USC instead, or does USC sit healthy and idle while Colorado plays a non-conference game?

The UCLA-Cal game, played last Sunday and scheduled only 48 hours before, shows the Pac-12 has the ability to move games around on the fly, but that only works if there's an even number of teams available.

You can see how difficult it is to make concrete plans while standing atop quicksand.

And then there's another angle to consider.

BYU is currently 8-0 and and ranked No. 8 in the AP poll, three spots above any Pac-12 outfit.

In the Pac-12's mad dash to a long shot Playoff berth, it would be a competitive benefit if somehow the league's two ranked teams, No. 11 Oregon and No. 20 USC, could somehow line up a games with the Cougars. Kalani Sitake's team has two schedule games remaining: this Saturday against North Alabama (the Cougars are 48-point favorites) and Dec. 12 versus San Diego State.

If the stars align for a BYU-Oregon game on Nov. 28 or a BYU-USC game on Dec. 5, that would be to the benefit of both parties.