The Washington Huskies will play one football game on Thursday, two on Friday in 2012.
It’s not just the Friday date of the Apple Cup that was eye-popping when the Pac-12 football schedule was announced Wednesday, but the road the Washington Huskies will travel to get there.
Especially a first half of the season that is loaded with what could be four of the top 10 teams in the final 2011 polls — LSU, Stanford, Oregon and USC.
A Sept. 8 contest at LSU — which is playing Alabama on Monday for the national title — will highlight Washington’s three-game nonconference schedule that is sandwiched by home games against San Diego State and Portland State.
Then, after a bye week comes a Thursday night home game against Stanford — one of three non-Saturday games on UW’s schedule, which also includes the Nov. 23 Apple Cup in Pullman on the day after Thanksgiving.
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The game against Stanford, which is 23-3 the past two seasons, begins a three-game gauntlet to open the conference season that will continue with a game at Rose Bowl champion Oregon on Oct. 6 and an Oct. 13 home game against USC and quarterback Matt Barkley, likely to enter the season as a Heisman Trophy favorite.
“There are some great opportunities in that schedule,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said in a story on the school’s website. “And some tremendous challenges.”
If the Huskies can survive the first half of the season, they will find the sledding probably more favorable in the second half, with no games against teams currently ranked.
However, four of the last six and three of the last four will be on the road, including a Friday night game on Nov. 2 at California.
Moving games away from Saturday is a concession to the Pac-12 conference’s new TV deal, which goes into effect for the 2012 season, requiring each school to agree to a certain number of Thursday and Friday games. A conference spokesman said each school will be asked to host two non-Saturday conference games every three years.
The Times had previously reported the Friday, Nov. 23, date for Apple Cup, which will be the first between the in-state rivals played on a non-Saturday since the 1936 game was held on Thanksgiving.
There are eight non-Saturday conference games this season, all of which will be on ESPN or FOX and were key parts of a TV contract that runs 12 years and is worth roughly $3 billion.
All of UW’s home games will be played at CenturyLink Field as the school renovates Husky Stadium.
Dates and TV situations for all games will be announced later. The Pac-12 stated in its release that with the formation of the conference’s own set of national and regional networks that every game will be on TV in some manner next year (games will also be on ABC/ESPN and various FOX outlets).
In the rotating manner of the conference schedules, UW will have five conference road games next season and will not play UCLA and Arizona State.
The Apple Cup will be the only non-Saturday game for Washington State, which will open its first season under coach Mike Leach at BYU on Sept. 1. Leach is a graduate of BYU.
WSU is also scheduled to host Oregon at CenturyLink Field on Sept. 29 in its annual game in Seattle and will host UCLA and new Bruins and former Seahawks coach Jim Mora on Nov. 10.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta.
|UW’s 2012 schedule|
|Times TBD. Home games highlighted.|
|Sept. 1||San Diego State||8-4|
|Sept. 8||@No. 1 LSU||12-0|
|Sept. 15||Portland State||7-4|
|Sept. 27||No. 4 Stanford*||11-1|
|Oct. 6||@No. 6 Oregon||11-2|
|Oct. 13||No. 5 USC||10-2|
|Oct. 27||Oregon State||3-9|
|Nov. 23||@Wash. State**||4-8|
|WSU’s 2012 schedule|
|Times TBD. Home games highlighted.|
|Sept. 8||Eastern Wash.||6-5|
|Sept. 29||No. 6 Oregon||11-2|
|Oct. 6||@Oregon State||3-9|
|Oct. 27||@No. 4 Stanford||11-1|
|Nov. 17||@Arizona State||6-7|