It's never too early to start looking ahead at the 2023 college football season. I mean, how else are we supposed to get through the next seven months of the offseason?

As we preview 2023 a bit, let's run through the easiest schedules in college football as it relates to contenders.

What makes for an easy schedule? Three factors are which teams you'll play in your out-of-conference schedule, which conference games you get home and away, and current winning streaks against opponents you'll face.

It's hard to be one of the four teams selected for the College Football Playoff, but it helps to have a more manageable schedule.

Author's note: Due to Texas and Oklahoma moving to the SEC either in 2024 or 2025, Big 12 schedules for 2023 have not been released yet. Therefore, Big 12 teams were not considered for this list.


Oregon State Beavers

The Pac-12 is loaded heading into 2023, with several contenders that are capable of making the playoff. The favorites look to be USC, with returning Heisman winner Caleb Williams, and Utah, which gets back star quarterback Cameron Rising. But Oregon and Washington, who both finished with double-digit wins in 2022, are capable of winning the conference, too.

Oregon State looks like the dark horse to win the conference. The Beavers finished 10-3 last season, capped off with a dominant bowl win over Florida. It marked just the third time in school history that Oregon State finished with 10 wins. Given that there are a number of talented contenders within the conference, it was hard to pick a team with the "easiest schedule" in the Pac-12, but Oregon State looks like it has the most manageable one.

Oregon State beat a pair of Mountain West teams in Boise State and Fresno State last season—both of which finished with 10 wins. So San Jose State and San Diego State shouldn't be too tricky.

As for the Beavers' home games, getting Utah, UCLA and Washington in Corvallis is huge. Oregon State lost to Utah and Washington on the road last season. UCLA finished 9-4 in 2022, but playing the Bruins instead of USC like Oregon State did last season is a plus, too. Oregon State has won its last two meetings against Stanford, as well.

As for Oregon State's away games, the Beavers will be favored in most of them. OSU beat Washington State for the first time in eight seasons last year, winning 24-10. The Beavers haven't won in Pullman since 2013, so this will be a challenge for Jonathan Smith's team.

Oregon State should be favored in its next three away games against Cal, Arizona and Colorado. All three teams finished with losing seasons the last two seasons, and with the exception of Colorado's 4-2 finish in 2020, all three have been at the bottom of the Pac-12 for a while.

The biggest road test for Oregon State will come in the last week of the season against Oregon. The Ducks return starting quarterback Bo Nix from last season, along with several offensive playmakers. Oregon State upset the Ducks last season, winning 38-34 in Corvallis. But the Beavers haven't won at Oregon since 2007.

With that said, Oregon has a much tougher schedule than Oregon State. Before playing Oregon State, Oregon will have played road games against Texas Tech, Washington and Utah, including a home game against USC two weeks prior. There's a chance Oregon might have multiple losses and be much more beat up at that point in the season, giving Oregon State an edge.

Oregon State might not be one of the outright favorites to win the Pac-12. But I wouldn't be surprised if we see the Beavers sneak into the title game come December because of their much more manageable schedule than some of the other contenders within the conference.