Thursday, the Pac-12 announced its 2013 football schedule, which it notes is “subject to change.” That’s a hedge against last-minute jockeying of non-league games, but most schools are set on those, and the conference-game dates are established. All that’s to be determined are game times, some of which are set in the spring/summer when the TV networks “draft” the games, while others — as you know, in some cases, painfully — are made on the fly with 12- and 6-day notice during the season.
Some of the highlights:
— The conference title game has been moved from Friday night to Saturday. Not sure what the rationale is there (other than it’s obviously TV-dictated), since Friday night provided a captive audience as opposed to the Pac-12 vying for attention with other conference title games Saturday. It could be that some other league is switching with the Pac-12.
— All traditional rivalry games are Nov. 23 or later, because as the calendar falls this year, there’s an extra Saturday. No Oct. 20 Cal-Stanford game, as there was in 2012.
— Sept. 14 looks like the league’s day of reckoning, with Wisconsin at Arizona State, UCLA at Nebraska, Ohio State at Cal and Tennessee at Oregon.
— If Stanford is going to make a national-title run, it will have to surmount a challenging November. The Cardinal has Oregon, USC, Cal and Notre Dame. And it doesn’t have its first of two byes until the first week of November — later than you’d like — in advance of what would shape up to be a big Thursday-night, Nov. 7 game with the Ducks.
— Oregon seems to have it relatively soft before it comes to Washington Oct. 12. The Ducks have Nicholls State, (at) Nevada, Tennessee, a bye, Cal and (at) Colorado.
— UCLA, which will be seen as the Pac-12 South favorite in many quarters, has a nasty two-week run just past midway, visiting Stanford Oct. 19 and Oregon Oct. 26.
— After the return to Husky Stadium against Boise State, the Huskies have a bye Sept. 7, earlier than you’d like. I suppose if a coach were drawing it up, he’d prefer a bye maybe in mid-October and the second one about three weeks later.
— Guessing that during that bye, there will be some video watched inside the UW offices of both Stanford and Oregon, which come consecutively Oct. 5 and Oct. 12, respectively.
— The Huskies miss USC and Utah.
— Judging by 2012 (which is admittedly risky), the back-to-back road games with UCLA Nov. 15 and Oregon State Nov. 23 look treacherous. Those teams combined to win 18 games this season.
— The Apple Cup is on a Friday for the second straight year, Nov. 29.
— The Cougars have a couple of eye-catching road games the first two weeks, but against programs struggling to return to prominence, Auburn Aug. 31 and USC Sept. 7. Auburn will debut coach Gus Malzahn, and It could be a good time to get USC, which will be going with an inexperienced quarterback, whoever he is.
— WSU misses Colorado and UCLA.
— Stanford comes to CenturyLink Field for the much-discussed Seattle game Sept. 28, rather than one of the Oregon schools (and I’m hearing next year’s Oregon game will be in Pullman rather than Seattle). It accomplishes two things: It keeps WSU from playing three straight games in Pullman (when things can tend to get a little stale), and putting the Oregon State game in Pullman Oct. 12 (rather than at CenturyLink) prevents WSU from playing three straight away from campus.
— Placement of the Stanford game at CenturyLink means the city will see two games that day, because Arizona is also at Washington.
— The Cougars host Arizona State on Oct. 31, a Thursday-night Halloween game. That could be risky given the distance needed to travel for season-ticket holders (and I suppose student hedonists looking to party elsewhere that night).