The Washington Huskies had a terrific year in Kalen DeBoer’s first season as head coach.
On top of that, QB Michael Penix Jr. is back and should be a popular pick among the Heisman Trophy candidates.
The Pac-12’s 2023 football schedule was officially released on Wednesday morning on the Pac-12 Network.
Washington did not have USC on the schedule last season, but this year the Huskies have the Trojans, Utah, and Oregon.
The Apple Cup is the final game of the season, and the nonconference slate isn’t very easy for the Huskies.
Here is a look at the opponents and dates for Washington in 2023. It’s an interesting comparison with USC on several levels:
SEPTEMBER 2: VS BOISE STATE BRONCOS
Sep 3, 2022; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Taylen Green (10) throws the ball during the second half against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Washington is clearly challenging itself out of conference. This is not a cupcake opener, unlike USC’s against San Jose State.
SEPTEMBER 9: VS TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE
Nov 26, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane safety Jehlen Cannady (2) celebrates after the game against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Not quite a cupcake game, but it should be very manageable for U-Dub.
SEPTEMBER 16: AT MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
Sep 17, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies linebacker Kamren Fabiculanan (13) defends a pass against Michigan State Spartans tight end Daniel Barker (9) during the fourth quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
This is the back end of a home-and-home arrangement with Michigan State. The Spartans weren’t good last year. Will they be meaningfully better in 2023?
SEPTEMBER 23: VS CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS
Sep 10, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears cornerback Isaiah Young (41) celebrates with linebacker Oluwafemi Oladejo (10) and cornerback Collin Gamble (21) after intercepting a pass to end the game against the UNLV Rebels at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
You can see that the Pac-12 schedule is backloaded for the top teams. It begs the question: Why couldn’t the conference have created at least one or two high-profile games earlier in the season?
SEPTEMBER 30: AT ARIZONA
Oct 1, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura (7) smiles after a play against the Colorado Buffaloes in the first half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
The state of Arizona has regularly been a stumbling block for Washington. Recall that the Huskies’ loss to Arizona State last year cost them a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game, maybe even the College Football Playoff.
OCTOBER 14: VS OREGON
Nov 12, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) throws a pass during the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
This is where Washington gets something USC did not: The Huskies are off on Oct. 7, one week before the Oregon game. USC does not get a week off before any of its big games in 2023. The Pac-12 Championship Game is not one of its 12 locked-in games. That is a conditional 13th game dependent on USC earning its way there. Washington gets an off week before a game which is guaranteed to happen. There’s a big difference.
OCTOBER 21: VS ARIZONA STATE
September 17, 2022; Tempe, Arizona; USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Kejuan Markham (12) returns an interception against the Eastern Michigan Eagles during a game at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Breen-USA TODAY Sports
Washington gets an easy game one week after a difficult game. USC’s only easy game after a difficult game is the Oct. 28 Cal game one week after the Oct. 21 Utah game.
OCTOBER 28: AT STANFORD
Sep 10, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee (18) during the first quarter against the USC Trojans at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Washington has been brutally bad on The Farm. Can the Huskies stop the Palo Alto Curse?
NOVEMBER 4: AT USC
Jan 2, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; USC Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley reacts during the first half against the Tulane Green Wave in the 2023 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Washington plays Stanford the week before USC. USC plays Cal the week before this game. This is one of the few spots where USC is not placed at a unique disadvantage on the schedule.
NOVEMBER 11: VS UTAH
Oct 27, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham sings the school fight song with his team after a game against the Washington State Cougars at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Utah won 21-17. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Washington has USC and Utah in back-to-back November weeks.
USC has Washington and Oregon in back-to-back November weeks.
This is where Oregon’s schedule advantage really becomes apparent.
NOVEMBER 18: AT OREGON STATE
Dec 19, 2020; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Oregon State Beavers head coach Jonathan Smith walks the sideline during the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Washington’s November is brutal. This is also where the Huskies’ slate is tougher than Oregon’s. USC’s schedule in November — Washington, Oregon, UCLA — is also very, very tough and demanding. Washington’s is slightly tougher.
NOVEMBER 25: VS WASHINGTON STATE
Sep 17, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) scrambles out of the pocket against the Colorado State Rams in the second half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Washington State won 38-7. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Washington does have the toughest November schedule in the Pac-12. No one should debate this.