One of the most exciting pastimes for Husky season ticket holders is scrutinizing the schedule to analyze the most and least appealing matchups. While the opposition is obviously very important, many other factors impact the in-person enjoyment of each game. Any loyal tailgater can tell you that weather and time of day contribute to the overall experience almost as much as the game itself. With that in mind, I scored each home game 0-5 in each of the following categories: Quality of Opponent, Rivalry Score, Game Importance, and Weather (time of day remains TBD for many games). I regretfully omitted whose week it was in the tailgate food rotation because that schedule was undecided when this story went to print. Keep in mind that these ratings are all scientific, objective, and irrefutable.
6. North Dakota
Quality- 0, Rivalry- 0, Importance- 1, Weather- 4, Overall- 5
I grew up in Fargo, ND, home of UND’s bitter rival, NDSU. Before the Bison became FCS powerhouses and won six of the last seven national titles, the vitriol was similar to UW-WSU in a much smaller state. That is to say, I’m a biased observer. With that in mind, the most interesting part of this match-up might be UND’s decade-long battle with the NCAA to keep its “hostile and offensive” Fighting Sioux nickname. After involvement from the state Board of Higher Education, the Attorney General, the ND Senate, the Governor, and a billionaire casino owner, the team went without a nickname from 2012-2015. At the end of 2015, the team became the Fighting Hawks, so join me on September 8th in not only cheering for the Huskies, but cheering against the Fighting Hawks and everything they stand for.
5. Oregon State
Quality- 2, Rivalry- 3, Importance- 3, Weather 1, Overall- 9
While Oregon State technically qualifies as UW’s rival, it’s more of a friendly rivalry at this point in time. The Beavers haven’t posed a threat during Petersen’s tenure and they even hired one of his proteges to coach the team. Even those who hated Jonathan Smith as UW’s OC are happy to see him at OSU. While the late season placement increases the chances that this game will have high stakes for the Dawgs, it also increases the likelihood of bad weather. Look for seats under cover and get your rain gear in advance.
3. (tie) BYU
Quality- 2, Rivalry- 1, Importance- 2, Weather-5, Overall- 10
Do they qualify as rivals because they’re called Cougars? Really, this game has two things going for it. First, the game will be BYU’s first trip to Husky Stadium since 2008, when the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Jake Locker doomed the Huskies to a 28-27 loss, which would prove to be their best chance at a win the whole season. I doubt I’m the only one whose feelings are still hurt over that one. Second, mid-September is prime football season. Not too hot, not too cold, and a low probability of rain. Arrive early, stay late, and enjoy the win. One other note on this game: it will be the first time since 2009 that the Huskies play a regular season non-conference game after their conference opener.
3. (tie) Colorado
Quality- 2, Rivalry- 2, Importance- 3, Weather 3-, Overall- 10
Everything about this game screams middle-of-the-pack. It’s a mediocre team that doesn’t qualify as a rival. It falls right in the middle of the schedule, a week after a much more important game at Oregon, and two weeks before Stanford. Late October usually yields cooler weather, but not so stormy that it becomes a major deterrent. With all that in mind, it’s not surprising that this game ranks right in the middle of the home games.
2. Arizona State
Quality- 3, Rivalry- 3, Importance- 4, Weather- 5, Overall- 15
I mentioned earlier that UW almost never plays Pac-12 games before finishing its non-conference slate. This year’s ASU game is the exception to that rule. The early date means that UW will have one fewer game to prepare for the start of conference season (and it’s not like the Auburn game is an easy way in, either). Moreover, Arizona schools have notoriously given UW fits in recent years. On the other hand, a meaningful game against a solid opponent in peak Seattle weather should be a hot ticket.
Quality- 5, Rivalry- 4, Importance- 5, Weather- 2, Overall- 16
No surprises here. The game that will probably decide who represents the Pac-12 North in the conference title game is also the game of the year on the Huskies’ home slate. The only drawback is that the game doesn’t happen until November when the weather starts to become predictably unpredictable. Even if there’s limited historical bad blood between the Huskies and the Cardinal, the teams have had overlapping runs of recent success that have created a mini-rivalry. The fact that fans will get to see Heisman front-runner and all-around highlight factory Bryce Love only makes this alluring matchup that much more exciting.