Nine days after announcing that there will be a 2020 Pac-12 football season, the conference released its schedule on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. The unconventional six-game season caps off an unconventional year, and will be the first time since World War II that Stanford football will not play USC nor UCLA.
Stanford will face each Pac-12 North team once, as well as one Pac-12 South team, Colorado, with no bye week. The Pac-12 championship is set for Dec. 18 between the North and South champions.
This schedule will conclude with enough time that all Pac-12 teams will be College Football Playoff eligible, though it is unclear if even an undefeated 7-0 record will be enough to prove to the selection committee that the conference is worthy of a spot against teams that have played a full 12 games.
The Cardinal will open the season on Saturday, Nov. 7 against reigning conference champ, Oregon. Last time Stanford traveled to Eugene, the Cardinal rallied in overtime for a comeback upset.
Week 2 will feature Colorado, the sole South team on the schedule, at home on Saturday, Nov. 14. The selection of the Buffaloes comes as a let down for many fans, who will not have the traditional USC and UCLA rivalry games to look forward to. But perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. Colorado is one of the weaker teams in the conference and likely is an easier opponent than Utah or the LA schools.
After the undergraduate quarter concludes on Friday, the Cardinal will host Washington State at home on Saturday, Nov. 21.
Just six days later, Stanford will make the drive across the Bay to California for an unordinary Friday night Big Game. This will be the 123rd edition of the rivalry against Cal, who currently holds the axe.
Stanford then travels to Washington for a Saturday, Dec. 5 matchup; in recent weeks the Huskies have seen significant COVID-19 outbreaks within its Greek life.
The Cardinal then host Oregon State at home on Saturday, Dec. 12 — last year, the Stanford-Oregon game was delayed due to lightning in Corvallis.
Weather is certainly an underestimated factor this season. With the typical football schedule pushed back three months, West Coast weather patterns will be drastically different — especially at away games in Eugene and Seattle late in the year. Anticipate more rain, more lightning delays and perhaps even some snow at the northern and mountain schools. Given the California-heavy Cardinal roster, it will be interesting to see if inclement weather disrupts Stanford’s routine.
In preparation for the season, Cardinal players are currently living in off-campus housing near campus or have been approved for on-campus residences through the housing exception process.
However, due to Santa Clara County restrictions, the team is currently unable to hold full team practices. Athletes are limited to strength and conditioning workouts and non-contact on-field drills. The university is in talks with the county to determine what health and safety protocols are necessary for the full restart of practices and games.
“We have been in touch with Santa Clara County and look forward to continuing to work with them to create a path for our student-athletes to train and compete,” said Stanford Director of Athletics Bernard Muir in a press release on Sep. 24. “As we continue those conversations, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, coaches and community remains our top priority.”
Athletes report their health status and receive temperature checks daily. As of Sep. 28, 1,055 COVID-19 tests have been administered to football players and 13 players have tested positive. Of those, 12 have since recovered and been cleared to resume activities. One player is currently quarantined and remains in isolation.
Contact Cybele Zhang at cybelez ‘at’ stanford.edu and Jeremy Rubin at jjmrubin ‘at’ stanford.edu.