The Pac 12 schedule for the 2021 season was released Tuesday and two things were hard to avoid. USC and ASU get scheduling gifts and UCLA gets a hammer.
USC And ASU Get Scheduling Gifts
Sun Devils Await October
Arizona State gets five home conference games. After the Sun Devils play at Utah on October 16th, they get a BYE and then have to play Washington State and USC in consecutive weeks but get them both at home. They also have the unusual set-up of playing the same team from the Pac 12 North three years in a row, on the road….but it is Oregon State. No one is going to confuse Reser Stadium in Corvallis with having to play in Eugene or Seattle for three straight years.
Trojans’ Turn To Avoid Oregon And Washington
As for the Trojans, it is their year to not have to play Washington or Oregon. Despite the chaos of 2020 with the truncated schedules and shuffling opponents from week to week, Pac 12 Senior Associate Commissioner Merton Hanks said there was the goal this year of keeping the normal rotation of games and opponents as though last season were a normal year. That means a lighter run through the northwest with games against Washington State, (road), and Oregon State, (home). The Trojans also have a bizarre ending to their regular season. Every other year, Notre Dame travels to Los Angeles for the annual rivalry game. But this is the year for USC to play in South Bend in mid-October. So, the Trojans will be ending their season at home against BYU.
The Cougars for their part, are like an adjunct part of the Pac 12 this season with three consecutive games against Arizona, Utah, and Arizona State to open the season. Then they will play Washington State and USC later in the year.
UCLA’s Brutal October
Meanwhile, on the other side of town from USC, UCLA fans are asking what they ever did wrong to the conference. October 16th the Bruins are at Washington. The next week, they play Oregon at home. The following week they have to travel to Utah to end a brutal three week stretch. If there is an upside to the UCLA schedule, it is that with all three out of conference games at home, (Hawaii, LSU, and Fresno State), the Bruins get seven home games this season. When asked what he thought of the toughness of the schedule, UCLA head coach Chip Kelly claimed to have not even seen it when it was released because the team was busy in off-season workouts. “It is what it is,” Kelly told the Pac 12 Network.
According to Hanks, all member athletic directors are shown the schedule days in advance for their input. A majority of the athletic directors must sign off on the schedules. Unanimity is neither possible nor required.
Conference Schedule News And Notes
Some other notables from the release of the conference schedule:
*Washington State does not get a BYE until November 6th. The Cougars also have the rare back-to-back Friday games; November 19th against Arizona and November 26th at Washington.
*Colorado will be at UCLA November 13th. That will be the return of Buffaloes head coach to place of his legacy. He will be returning to scene where he was a receiver for 4 years for UCLA. Of course, it was also the first place that hired him as a head coach and ultimately fired him. Happy homecoming, Coach Dorrell.
*Oregon State, UCLA, and USC are the only teams in the conference with a schedule of all Saturday games.
*Utah gets five conference home games, including Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, and Colorado.
Among the highlights of the non-conference schedule for the Pac 12 are UCLA hosting LSU, Washington traveling to Michigan, Oregon at Ohio State, Stanford hosting Kansas State, Cal at TCU, and the annual Notre Dame games against USC and Stanford.
The Pac 12 was the last major conference to release its schedule. It was slated to be made public two weeks ago but was delayed because it had not made its way through each of the school athletic departments yet.