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Looking ahead at future non-conference scheduling

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

While this year has proven games can be scheduled with even 48 hours notice, most college teams schedule games years in advance. And I mean years - Clemson at Oklahoma on 9/13/2036 will feature athletes who may not be even able to walk yet. Even if that is a bit of overkill, looking at the Huskies future non-conference schedule seems a bit, well empty. Sure there’s Ohio State and Michigan State on the (eventual) horizon, but a missed opportunity with Michigan lingers along with some empty slots in the upcoming years. I’ve set out to address how the team can fill these games with quality opponents.

Washington prefers a schedule of 7 home games and 5 road games. In even years, the Huskies play 4 conference games at home and 5 on the road. In odd years, they play 5 at home and 4 on the road. Therefore to achieve 7 home games in even years, all 3 non-conference games must be at home, whereas in odd years, 2 non-conference games will be at home and one will be on the road. This can be achieved using the "A-B-C" scheduling:

"A" Games: marquee games against other Power 5 schools. These are either 1) home & home or 2) neutral site, one-off games. In UW’s case, the game in Seattle would be during an even year and the road game would be during an odd year. Think LSU, Rutgers, and BYU, even if the latter two aren’t "marquee" names they fit the criteria. In this post, we will be focusing on the "A" Games only.

"B" Games: games against Group of 5 schools. These are always at home and require the Huskies to provide a payment guarantee. For example, UW will pay Kent State a $1.8 million guarantee for their 9/3/22 matchup in Seattle. There is no return date.

"C" Games: games against FCS schools. These are always at home and require UW to provide a guarantee as well, but are much cheaper. There is no return date.

2021 | A: at Michigan | B: Arkansas State | C: Montana

2022 | A: OPEN | B: Kent State | C: Portland State

2023 | A: OPEN | B: Tulsa | C: North Dakota

2024 | A: Ohio State | B: OPEN | C: Weber State

2025 | A: at Ohio State | B: OPEN | C: UC Davis

2026 | A: OPEN | B: OPEN | C: OPEN

2027 | A: OPEN | B: Fresno State | C: OPEN

2028 | A: Michigan State | B: OPEN | C: OPEN

2029 | A: OPEN | B: OPEN | C: OPEN

2030 | A: OPEN | B: OPEN | C: OPEN

2031 | A: at Michigan State | B: OPEN | C: OPEN

Assumptions

  • Reschedule the Michigan home game lost this year (2020)
  • All "B" and "C" games will be home games filled by any team
  • H&H series in 2026-2027 and 2029-30. That leaves a one-off game in 2023: perfect for a neutral site game. Since we have three series with Big Ten teams, I will attempt to fill these voids with other Power 5 conferences.

2022: vs. Kent State (9/3), vs. Portland State (9/10), vs. Michigan (9/17)

  • Reschedule Michigan into the open "A" slot. Michigan is currently scheduled to host Colorado State, Hawai’i, and UConn that year which would give them EIGHT home games.
  • Since UConn is an FBS Independent, I think their game is easily moveable. Michigan cancels the game with UConn on 9/17/22, and Michigan @ UW slides right in.
  • In return, UW can offer to schedule UConn as their "B" slot in 2024 and 2026, and shoot - let’s even throw in a H&H for men’s basketball!

2023: Notre Dame in Las Vegas (9/2), vs. Tulsa (9/9), vs. North Dakota (9/16)

  • Since UW already has 7 home games scheduled for this year -- the "B" and "C" non-conference games and 5 Pac-12 home games, they can aim to have a neutral site one-off against another Power 5 opponent
  • A lot of teams do not have open slots in 2023, but FBS Independent powerhouse Notre Dame has lots of schedule flexibility with only one game scheduled in September 2023 so far. If Notre Dame were to schedule UW and fill their last slot with a buy game, it would give them 6 home, 5 away, and 1 neutral on the season. Notre Dame is a brand and consistently hosts neutral site games across the country.

2024 & 2025: Ohio State home and home (9/14/24 in Seattle and 9/13/25 in Columbus)

  • Already scheduled and looking forward to it
  • "B" games can be UConn (2024) and a MW team (2025)
  • "C" games are already scheduled - Weber State (2024) and UC Davis (2025)

2026 & 2027: Virginia home and home (9/5/26 in Seattle and 9/4/27 in Charlottesville)

  • Surprisingly, a lot of teams in the ACC, Big 12, and SEC are booked. Many of them have dates with fellow Pac-12 teams. One team that has open slots is Virginia. UVA is not a conference powerhouse, but is a quality team (as of now) with a similar academic profile to UW. The Cavaliers have made a bowl game for 3 straight years including an appearance in the 2019 Orange Bowl.

2028 & 2031: Michigan State home and home (9/9/28 in Seattle and 9/6/31 in East Lansing)

  • Already scheduled. Freshmen during the 2031 game are in third grade now.

2029 & 2030: Tennessee home and home (9/2/29 in Knoxville and 9/1/30 in Seattle)

  • Tennessee would be the first SEC team to visit Seattle since LSU in 2009 - a span of, in this case, 21 years. The program is a historical powerhouse that has fallen wayside recently, but could potentially be a strong opponent down the road.

Here’s what that above chart would look like with these games filled in bold:

2021 | A: at Michigan | B: Arkansas State | C: Montana

2022 | A: Michigan | B: Kent State | C: Portland State

2023 | A: Notre Dame (Las Vegas) | B: Tulsa | C: North Dakota

2024 | A: Ohio State | B: UConn | C: Weber State

2025 | A: at Ohio State | B: Group of 5 Team | C: UC Davis

2026 | A: Virginia | B: UConn | C: FCS Team

2027 | A: at Virginia | B: Fresno State | C: FCS Team

2028 | A: Michigan State | B: Group of 5 Team | C: FCS Team

2029 | A: at Tennessee | B: Group of 5 Team | C: FCS Team

2030 | A: Tennessee | B: Group of 5 Team | C: FCS Team

2031 | A: at Michigan State | B: Group of 5 Team | C: FCS Team