The Big Ten had already released the slate of opponents for the next 5 years after Washington and Oregon were added to the conference but now we have dates for the 2024 season. If you’re someone looking to book a road trip to one of the new conference locales, feel free to start browsing airfare prices now.
You may notice right off the bat that Washington has 2 byes on the schedule next year. That’s because this is a year where there are 5 weekends in November which adds an extra week to the college football calendar since conference title games traditionally take place the first week of December.
The Huskies get to ease into what will be a very difficult schedule at least. The Dawgs get a home game against Northwestern who is better than expected this year but will have a new coach next season. Then comes a road trip at Rutgers which resulted in a 30-14 Husky win back in 2017.
That’s where things get difficult. Washington hosts Michigan in a makeup for the game which was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll see if the Wolverines have any kind of restrictions on them by that time giving the ongoing sign stealing scandal. Then the final week of 7 straight games results in a road trip to Iowa which is never easy. Although the Hawkeyes may be in flux given that OC Brian Ferentz has been told he’s not coming back next year and that could lead HC Kirk Ferentz (his dad) to decide he’s not returning either.
After the bye week comes another road trip with a visit to Indiana in the Michael Penix bowl. That’s the end of the niceties as UW looks to be facing a 4-game gauntlet to close the year. First, the Huskies host USC in what is the Trojans’ only road trip outside of California after mid-October. Then Washington travels to Happy Valley to take on Penn State in what very easily could be a white-out game in the snow. We then get to see a bookend home game of the L.A schools when Chip Kelly and UCLA visit.
Fortunately Washington gets a second bye week leading into Thanksgiving before the new end of season rivalry game becomes Oregon rather than Washington State. The Big Ten figured it out from day one as both teams have a bye week before that matchup occurs.
There are currently no games listed as happening on a date outside of a Saturday but the Big Ten released in the footnotes that any of the games could be moved to a Friday at a later date.
There is still at least one more hole on the Huskies’ schedule. Ian Furness of KJR reported this week that there was movement on scheduling a possibly Labor Day weekend non-conference Apple Cup at Lumen Field where each school would split the income from the ticket sales. The Huskies currently are scheduled to host Eastern Michigan on that weekend but have an open date for September 14th after Ohio State canceled their home and home against UW earlier this offseason (and it turns out to be a good thing they did since that game would’ve been canceled regardless and UW got the buyout money this way). Eastern Michigan already has a game scheduled for 9/14 so would they help UW shift the date or would UW simply play an Apple Cup on that date?
Regardless, there will need to be one more game added to the schedule to make things complete.
Let’s just say that Washington manages to get a “neutral” site game against the Cougars to close out the schedule. That would give the following schedule based on the most recent week’s SP+ results:
FCS Weber State, Eastern Michigan (115), Neutral Washington St (44), Northwestern (92), at Rutgers (50), Michigan (1), at Iowa (36), at Indiana (95), USC (14), at Penn State (10), UCLA (19), at Oregon (4)
Closing out the year with potentially four straight top-20 teams plus also having to play Michigan earlier in the season is certainly a murderer’s row. Even if the Huskies are a top-ten team again next year it’s tough to imagine coming out of that stretch with anything better than a 10-2 record. Fortunately the CFP will expand to 12 teams next year meaning that picking up 2 losses is no longer an eliminator for a chance to play for a national title.