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Arizona football: Thoughts on the Wildcats’ 2014 conference schedule

Day Date Opponent
Sat. Aug. 30 UNLV
Sat. Sept. 6 at UTSA
Sat. Sept. 13 Nevada
Sat. Sept. 20 California
Thurs. Oct. 2 at Oregon
Sat. Oct. 11 USC
Sat. Oct. 25 at Washington St.
Sat. Nov. 1 at UCLA
Sat. Nov. 8 Colorado
Sat. Nov. 15 Washington
Sat. Nov. 22 at Utah
Fri. Nov. 28 ASU

The Arizona Wildcats’ 2014 football schedule is built for a good start — all the better to get a new quarterback settled and established — but it quickly turns tougher.

Coach Rich Rodriguez’s third team will face three of its most difficult games in the span of a month, starting with a Thursday night game at Oregon on Oct. 2.

The Ducks, who return three first-team All-Pac-12 players, figure to be the league favorite and will be bent on revenge after falling to the Cats 42-16 in Tucson.

Arizona then comes home to play USC and new coach Steve Sarkisian on Oct. 11, followed by a bye, a trip to Washington State (which upset UA in Tucson this season) and then at UCLA on Nov. 1.

Oregon and UCLA could very well start the season in the national top 10. USC ended up in the Top 25 this season, rallying from a poor start under coach Lane Kiffin.

The Pac-12 announced the league schedule on Wednesday. You can find the full schedule at Pac-12.com.

Arizona’s non-conference schedule, for the second consecutive season, features UTSA and UNLV. A home game against Nevada replaces a home game against NAU. With a conference opener against Cal, which was winless in league play in 2013, UA should be 4-0 before being seriously challenged.

Despite the tough middle, this is a more balanced schedule than Arizona has had in recent seasons.

The arduous end to 2010 and beginning to the 2011 season hastened the firing of coach Mike Stoops. Last season’s schedule featured a stretch of seven weekends with only one home game. And two off weekends packed close together meant one game in 26 days followed by eight weeks of football to end the regular season.

The Territorial Cup game against Arizona State will be played on the Friday after Thanksgiving, not on a Saturday, as was the case this season. The Colorado game on Nov. 8 is Homecoming.

You can’t skate through a Pac-12 season with ease, but, overall, this is a favorable setup for Arizona. At least, there aren’t any huge negatives.

The Cats miss Stanford and Oregon State for the second consecutive season in 2014. With the two-year rotating Pac-12 schedule, those foes will be back on Arizona’s slate in 2015, when Cal and Oregon come off for two seasons.

The kickoff times and TV networks for Arizona’s games are to be determined.

Arizona hasn’t announced the start date for spring ball, but its spring game will be held April 12 at 1 p.m. and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

Rich Rodriguez enters his third season with a 16-8 record at Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Rich Rodriguez enters his third season with a 16-8 record at Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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