Stanford football released its 2015-16 schedule on Tuesday evening, revealing a tremendous slate that includes seven compelling home matchups and intriguing non-conference opponents that promise to make the new year interesting for Cardinal fans.
The schedule will feature several programs that have seen success in the last several years, including non-conference dates against Northwestern and defending Fiesta Bowl champion UCF, along with the traditional rivalry matchup against Notre Dame. In addition, the Cardinal draw Arizona and Colorado from the rotation of Pac-12 South teams, replacing Arizona State and Utah from the 2014-15 schedule.
While Stanford’s schedule is favorable in that it draws most of the stronger teams in the Pac-12 at home, it also has an unfavorable element in that the Cardinal will lack a proper bye week — the lack of a scheduled game on Saturday, Oct. 10 precedes a Thursday matchup against UCLA.
The Cardinal will open the season on the road against the Northwestern Wildcats of the Big Ten in Evanston, Illinois in the first year of a home-and-home between the two teams. While Northwestern has fallen on hard times as of late, the Wildcats are just two years removed from a 10-3 season that saw them finish at No. 17 in the AP poll as the second-highest ranked team in their conference after a victory over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl.
Stanford will open its home schedule the following week by welcoming UCF to Stanford Stadium in an interesting out-of-conference matchup against one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference coming off of a big BCS bowl victory. This matchup will also mark the first year of a home-and-home, with the away component set to be played in 2019.
The Cardinal will then take to the road to open Pac-12 play, with a second consecutive early-season matchup against USC offering a chance for Stanford to snap its two-game losing streak against the Trojans. That will quickly be followed by a short week of practice, after which Stanford will travel to Corvallis, Oregon for a Friday matchup with the Oregon State Beavers.
A return to the Farm will provide a tough three-game homestand for the Cardinal as they get into the meat of their conference schedule, with the home Pac-12 opener set to be played against a resurgent Arizona on Oct. 3 followed by the Thursday matchup against UCLA and homecoming against the Chris Petersen-led Washington Huskies.
Each of those three teams played the Cardinal tough in their last trips to the Farm, with Arizona giving Stanford a scare in 2012 by going up by two touchdowns late before ultimately succumbing 54-48 in overtime. Meanwhile, Washington played a close game against Stanford last season that was salvaged by the stellar play of Ty Montgomery, while UCLA hung around within one touchdown before the Cardinal scored in the dwindling minutes of the fourth quarter to put the game away.
What should be relatively easy road trips to Washington State and Colorado in back-to-back weeks follow, setting up the final homestand of the season, in which Stanford will welcome Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks for three straight rivalry games to close out the year.
The Nov. 14 matchup against Oregon will likely again be the centerpiece of Stanford’s schedule, with the matchup between the Ducks and Cardinal having served as the de facto Pac-12 North championship game for each of the last several years. The game will have a high chance of having significant postseason implications for both teams in the second year of the College Football Playoff.
With the Cardinal set to get UCF, Arizona, UCLA, Washington, Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame at home, 2015-16 will likely give Stanford fans one of the most exciting home experiences in the nation. Game times and television coverage will be revealed at a future date.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.
2015-16 Stanford football schedule:
Sept. 5 (Sat.) – at Northwestern
Sept. 12 (Sat.) – UCF
Sept. 19 (Sat.) – at USC
Sept. 25 (Fri.) – at Oregon State
Oct. 3 (Sat.) – Arizona
Oct. 15 (Thurs.) – UCLA
Oct. 24 (Sat.) – Washington (homecoming)
Oct. 31 (Sat.) – at Washington State
Nov. 7 (Sat.) – at Colorado
Nov. 14 (Sat.) – Oregon
Nov. 21 (Sat.) – California
Nov. 28 (Sat.) – Notre Dame