New Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez’s “Welcome to the Pac-12″ moment will come in rowdy Autzen Stadium against the defending Rose Bowl champions.
The Pac-12 released its football schedule for next season Wednesday, and the Wildcats will open league play at the Oregon Ducks on Sept. 22.
That will match the refined, super speedy read-option offense of Oregon vs. an Arizona team that will be still working on the basics of that attack, which was popularized by Rodriguez 20 years ago.
Arizona’s league schedule, as it was this season, is front-loaded, although not quite as much.
After the opener at Oregon, UA plays at Stanford on Oct. 6 (although the Cardinal is losing key personnel on offense, including quarterback Andrew Luck and two first-round offensive linemen) and plays host to Pac-12 South favorite USC on Oct. 27.
Colorado visits Tucson for the first time as a conference member on Nov. 10. The Cats travel to Utah a week later for their first league game in Salt Lake City.
Arizona’s regular season ends against visiting Arizona State on Friday, Nov. 23 — the day after Thanksgiving. The Territorial Cup rivalry returns to a more tradition spot after being the penultimate game of the 2011 season.
As was the case in 2011, Arizona misses Cal and Washington State from the North division. Those opponents will be back on the schedule in 2013.
Here is a reminder of which teams Arizona will skip from the North in the unbalanced league schedule through 2018:
In 2013 and 2014, Arizona misses Oregon State and Stanford.
In 2015 and 2016, Arizona skips Oregon and Cal.
In 2017 and 2018, the Wildcats won’t play Washington or Stanford.
As for 2012, two traditional rivalries have been moved off the final weekend of the regular season. USC will play at UCLA on Nov. 17, and Stanford is at Cal on Oct. 20. The Pac-12 title game will be held Nov. 30.
The Wildcats will play three home non-conference games, giving them eight home games for the first time since the 1988 season. The marquee matchup is Oklahoma State on Sept. 8.
The Fiesta Bowl champion Cowboys don’t figure to be as strong in 2012, losing 28-year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden, two-time Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Justin Blackmon, All-American offensive tackle Levy Adcock and All-American punter/kicker Quinn Sharp.
With the new Pac-12 network kicking in, every game will be played on national television.
Here is Arizona’s 2012 schedule:
|Sept. 8||Oklahoma State|
|Sept. 15||South Carolina State|
|Sept. 22||at Oregon|
|Sept. 29||Oregon State|
|Oct. 6||at Stanford|
|Nov. 3||at UCLA|
|Nov. 17||at Utah|
|Nov. 23||Arizona State|