The Huskies hope this is the year they move back into the Top 25 for good and not just a week or two here or there
It won’t hurt that effort that UW is dropping soundly in rankings of the toughest schedules for 2013.
Phil Steele today passed along the official NCAA pre-season schedule rating, which as he notes is based on a somewhat flawed metric of simply looking at the combined opponent won-loss record of the previous season.
Still, in UW’s case, I think it can be agreed that the No. 73 rating of the Huskies at least reflects a schedule that by any measure isn’t as rugged as 2012, when Washington’s schedule was rated No. 16 in the same NCAA list.
Instead of a trip to a possible national contender in LSU, there’s a neutral site visit to an Illinois team that went 2-10 last season. And instead of five Pac-12 road games, there are just four, making for seven home games overall — including six of the first nine, giving the Huskies a golden opportunity to get off to a fast start.
Not to say the schedule is a cakewalk to 10 wins — Boise State will obviously present a challenge in the opener. But the other tough aspects of it this year are simply part living life in the Pac-12 —- trips to Stanford, Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State and the marquee home game against Oregon Oct. 12.
And in general, you are seeing the type of schedule that will become the norm with Washington fully adopting an A-B-C approach to its non-conference schedule (which this year pretty much evolves in that order) and making no apologies about it.
UW for years was known for its rugged non-conference slates — recall the 2008 non-conference slate of BYU, Notre Dame and Oklahoma? But Washington is no longer trying to buck the trend of many others of dampening down schedules to assure bowl games and winning seasons (and while fans may argue the direction, the reality is attendance and revenue depends more on winning than quality of opponent).
UW wasn’t alone in being a Pac-12 holdout against watering down the non-conference schedule. Pac-12 schools — many located in big markets where attendance is more dependent on presenting an attractive foe — for years dominated the upper tiers of ratings of schedule toughness.
But even that is beginning to change, in part because Pac-12 schools can now count on much larger TV revenue. Acknowledging again that the way the NCAA rates strength of schedule is flawed, it’s still worth noting that only two conference schools rank in the top 25 —- Cal at No. 9 and Colorado at No. 14.
As for UW’s schedule, here it is again as a reminder:
Aug. 31 — vs. Boise State
Sept. 14 — vs. Illinois at Chicago’s Solider Field
Sept. 21 — vs. Idaho State
Sept. 28 — vs. Arizona
Oct. 5 —at Stanford
Oct. 12 — vs. Oregon
Oct. 19 — at Arizona State
Oct. 26 — vs. Cal
Nov. 9 — vs. Colorado
Nov. 15 — at UCLA
Nov. 23 — at Oregon State
Nov. 29 — vs. Washington State