Pac-12: Breaking down the 2013 football schedule
The only mystery regarding Thursday's release of the 2013 Pac-12 football schedule was when the games would be played, because everybody's nonconference games and the rotation of conference opponents were already set.
Even so, there's some news here, and having the full context in front of us opens the way for some observations:
The Pac-12 is not afraid to use Thursday for showcase games. The prime example is Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 7.
The way the calendar falls this year, the regular season includes 14 weekends. As a result, nine Pac-12 schools will have two byes each. The exceptions are Arizona State and Stanford, which open the season Sept. 7, and California, which concludes the season Nov. 23.
â The Big Game between Cal and Stanford is Nov. 23; the other five rivalry games are booked Nov. 29 and 30, the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Nobody's nonconference schedule jumps out as the toughest. Stanford barely gets the award, hosting San Jose State and Notre Dame and visiting Army. Arizona State deserves mention, even with an FSC opponent. That's because Sacramento State has beaten a Pac-12 school each of the past two seasons. The Sun Devils also host Wisconsin and play Notre Dame at Arlington, Texas.
The easiest nonconference schedule is definitely Arizona's. The Wildcats host Northern Arizona and Texas-San Antonio and visit UNLV.
The toughest conference schedule is Utah's, mostly because of the order of opponents. The Utes don't get to play Washington State and Colorado until the final two weeks, meaning their first seven league games are very challenging. It helps that the Utes' first three league games (Oregon State, UCLA and Stanford) are at home, but all of those will be difficult.
The easiest conference schedule belongs to Oregon State. The Beavers skip UCLA and Arizona in the rotation; Washington State and Cal are among their road opponents.
Maybe the biggest scheduling twist is the Pac-12's championship game moving from Friday to Saturday, Dec. 7.