Unleashed: 2013 Football Schedule Unveiled
Jan. 10, 2013
UW Director of Writing
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SEATTLE - You already knew UW was going unveil new Husky Stadium against Boise State in the 2013 opener.
Now know this: Arizona and Oregon will be the first Pac-12 teams to come into Washington's $250 million, renovated marvel.
The conference and UW have announced the complete football schedules for next season. Washington's has the Wildcats coming to Husky Stadium to begin Pac-12 play on Saturday, Sept. 28. It's the first time since 1989 Washington that plays Arizona to begin its league schedule.
The Huskies then play at Rose Bowl-champion Stanford Oct. 5 before they host the Fiesta Bowl-champion Ducks on Saturday Oct. 12.
The home schedule for the return-to-campus season also includes Idaho State, California, Colorado - and ends with a Friday Apple Cup at Husky Stadium. That will be on national television the day after Thanksgiving, just like it was in 2012 in Pullman.
Washington's 2013 schedule has another national, Friday TV game in primetime on Nov. 15 at UCLA.
Sure, it's only January. Yet Steve Sarkisian and his Huskies are already pumped to be returning to their true home after a season of borrowing CenturyLInk Field in downtown Seattle.
An opener unlike any in the 93 years since Husky Stadium's original construction will be UW's first game alongside Lake Washington in 21 months, since renovations on the Northwest icon began two days following the Dawgs' last campus game on Nov. 5, 2011, against Oregon.
"We are all really excited to be back at Husky Stadium," Sarkisian said late Wednesday night over the phone from his Seattle-area home. "We are really excited to be able to come out of that tunnel again and feel the best environment in college football. The excitement from our players, our coaches, for our fans is something we've been looking forward to for a long time.
"It's a tremendous motivator for us."
So is this: Oregon and Stanford, Washington's rivals in the Pac-12's North Division, are again back-to-back opponents in 2013. And each is likely to be ranked in the nation's top 10 again next preseason.
The Huskies will return 10 of 11 starters on offense and another eight starters on defense from this past season's 7-6 team that lost 28-26 to Boise State in December's MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. That was weeks after UW beat then-No. 8 Stanford, as Washington was only conference team to defeat the Cardinal in 2012. The Huskies lost the following week at No. 2 Oregon.
This fall will be the third time in four years the Huskies have faced Stanford and Oregon in consecutive weeks.
Sarkisian just laughed over the odd -- and not exactly advantageous -- scheduling quirk.
"Our North Division, we can all see it, it's a pretty challenging division to be in. And Stanford and Oregon are the best teams in it right now," he said. "To be where we are striving to be, at the top of our division, playing in the conference championship game, we have to beat Stanford and Oregon.
"If we play them back to back, then we play them play to back. So be it."
POISED FOR A FAST START
Including an Oct. 19 game at Arizona State, the Huskies will play bowl teams in each of their first four league games in 2013. The Sun Devils are back on the schedule for the first time since 2010, as ASU and UCLA replace Utah and USC from the previous two Pac-12 seasons.
So Washington will again have a heavily front-loaded conference schedule. Yet as opposed to the relative meat grinders they've endured in recent Septembers, the Huskies have a prime opportunity for a fast start in 2013 - as do many Pac-12 teams, for that matter.
This UW schedule appears to lack the supreme, almost debilitating ruggedness of recent non-conference seasons, which have included games at LSU, Nebraska and Notre Dame.
After playing seven teams ranked in The Associated Press' top 15 during pre-conference play over the previous five seasons, the Huskies may play none to start the 2013 season. That is, unless Boise State is ranked that high in late August. The Broncos ended this past regular season No. 20 in the AP poll.
The Huskies and Broncos had played just once ever before last month's MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. They will meet for the second time in nine months late this summer.
After the Boise State opener and the first of two bye weeks on the schedule, Washington plays for the first time at 88-year-old Soldier Field in Chicago, against Illinois (2-10 in 2012) on Sept. 14. The only other time the Huskies have played in Chicago was when coach Enoch Bagshaw took them to Amos Alonzo Stagg Field to play at the University of Chicago, then of the Big Ten, on Nov. 23, 1929.
The final non-conference game for 2013 is Sept. 21 at home against Idaho State of the Football Championship Subdivision. It is Washington's first meeting with the Bengals, who were added as a late substitute on the schedule.
Five of the first eight opponents in 2013 - and seven in all -- played in bowl games this past season.
Seven of UW's first eight opponents in 2012 made bowls, the only exception being Portland State of the FCS.
Washington won't apologize for how it will start the '13 schedule. Not when it is playing nine other games inside a demanding league that has produced two entrants to the Bowl Championship Series in each of the last three seasons.
Before it begins Pac-12 play at Washington, Arizona will play Northern Arizona, at UNLV and against Texas-San Antonio.
"It's hard to predict exactly how strong your schedule is going to be for a given year. So much of our schedule is set years in advance," Sarkisian said. "How could we have known, for instance, how Illinois was going to be in two years (when the Huskies agreed in 2010 to a home-and-home series with the Illini)?
"I do know people in our conference recognize how difficult playing nine games in our league is."
BYES EARLY AND LATE - AND EXCITEMENT "ALL AROUND"
The Dawgs have two bye dates this year. The first is that one Sept. 7 immediately after the opener, which was moved up one week as it became apparent Husky Stadium's renovation was ahead of schedule. The second Saturday off is Nov. 2, between UW hosting Cal for its homecoming game Oct. 26 and Colorado Nov. 9.
After Colorado the Huskies play that Friday game Nov. 15 at UCLA. It will be UW's first game at the Bruins' Rose Bowl home since November 2009, the Los Angeles-area native Sarkisian's first season with the Huskies. And it will be a mini-return for Marques Tuiasosopo. The former Rose Bowl-winning quarterback at Washington returned to UW as Sarkisian's new quarterback coach this month after spending the last two seasons on coach Jim Mora's staff at UCLA.
The Dawgs finish the 2013 regular season at Oregon State, another foe likely to be highly ranked, on Nov. 23 then against Washington State in the 106th Apple Cup on Friday, Nov. 29.
It will be the first Apple Cup at Husky Stadium since 2009 when UW won 30-0.
This year's Pac-12 championship game between champions of the North and South divisions will be played on Dec. 7, again on the home field of the team with the better record.
That, of course, is a ways off.
Until then - and just in case you can't tell -- Sarkisian really can't wait for August.
Not only will UW play its first game in its new stadium that month, it will also move then into its new, 83,000-square-foot football operations center on the west of the new lower bowl.
"Just from a consistency standpoint, it's going to be great again. This is our house. This is what we do," said the fourth-year coach, who has put on a hard hat numerous times recently to tour his new stadium.
"And for our fans, just the simple fact we are playing back on campus again. Students can walk to games. The normalcy of the tailgating, the traditions, boating to the games, our Husky Walk before games - we are all-around excited. Never mind the actual 60 minutes playing the game.
"We couldn't be more excited about the fact we are getting back to our stadium."
About Gregg Bell Gregg Bell is an award-winning sports writer who joined the University of Washington's staff in September 2010 as the director of writing. Previously, Bell served as the senior national sports writer in Seattle for The Associated Press. The native of Steubenville, Ohio, is a 1993 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He received a master's degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2000.
Gregg Bell Unleashed can be found on GoHuskies.com each Wednesday.