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Potential Arizona football 2020 schedule scenarios

arizona-wildcats-college-football-national-signing-day-tracker-recruiting-2021 Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For those of you hoping to make fun of Todd Graham and his headset late next month, you’ll have to wait for another chance to mock the former ASU coach in his new gig at Hawaii.

Same goes for Arizona Wildcats fans eager to record a sure victory over Portland State on Labor Day weekend, or get to witness the UA play a power-conference opponent on the road for the first time since 2011.

The non-league portion of Arizona’s 2020 schedule is no longer, having been lopped off on Friday when the Pac-12 announced it would play only conference games this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whether that season will actually happen in the fall, or at all, still remains to be seen.

So what does that mean the schedule will look like? Will Arizona play the nine conference games it was already on tap to, at the same time and place, or will a tenth or even eleventh league tilt be added to make up for the eliminated contests?

Right now that’s anyone’s guess, as the Pac-12 has said it won’t make any further decisions until the end of July.

But that doesn’t stop us. Here are a few possible schedules for Arizona this fall:

Status quo

If the Pac-12 sticks with just the nine games everyone was already set to play, Arizona would open the 2020 season at home Sept. 12 against Stanford. But then the Wildcats would have two weeks off, as they were set to visit Texas Tech on Sept. 19 and then have a bye before visiting UCLA on Oct. 3.

So without changing anything, this is how Arizona’s slate would look:

  • Sept. 12 vs. Stanford
  • Sept. 19 OFF
  • Sept. 26 OFF
  • Oct. 3 at UCLA
  • Oct. 9 (Fri) vs. Colorado
  • Oct. 17 vs. USC
  • Oct. 23 (Fri) at Washington
  • Oct. 31 vs. Oregon
  • Nov. 7 at Utah
  • Nov. 14 OFF
  • Nov. 21 at Oregon State
  • Nov. 28 vs. ASU

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News proposed a schedule last week that would include some “flex” weeks in case games needed to be postponed, likely due to positive COVID-19 tests, but probably not more than one week off at a time. Maybe the Stanford game gets moved to Sept. 19, since it’s the only league contest on that date, but the Cardinal are supposed to host USC that day, so at least some tweaking would be needed.

An even 10

Adding a 10th conference game would ensure every team gets five home games and five on the road, which seems fair. But who is that 10th opponent? As it stands, each Pac-12 school skips two league opponents for a two-year block, and Arizona is supposed to miss Cal and Washington State in 2020-21.

In a 5-home, 5-road split, the Wildcats’ extra game would be on the road, but both Cal and Wazzu already have five home games scheduled so just sending the UA to Berkeley or Pullman wouldn’t balance things out (nor would having one of them come to Tucson).

So, instead, how about making the rivalry game a home-and-home tilt?

Arizona is set to host the Territorial Cup on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so it could easily make a return trip to Tempe for that 10th contest. Rather, the Wildcats would probably go to Sun Devil Stadium first before hosting ASU at the end of the season, unless the Pac-12 plans to push back end of the regular season into December.

Assuming that’s not the case, the game at ASU could be slotted into the first half of that double bye that currently exists after the opener against Stanford. ASU is also off Sept. 19, so it would fit perfectly.

Here’s how that would look:

  • Sept. 12 vs. Stanford
  • Sept. 19 at ASU
  • Sept. 26 OFF
  • Oct. 3 at UCLA
  • Oct. 9 (Fri) vs. Colorado
  • Oct. 17 vs. USC
  • Oct. 23 (Fri) at Washington
  • Oct. 31 vs. Oregon
  • Nov. 7 at Utah
  • Nov. 14 OFF
  • Nov. 21 at Oregon State
  • Nov. 28 vs. ASU

True round robin

Back in May, when the prospect of a conference-only schedule was first mentioned, we put together a league-wide grid where all 12 teams played each other once.

This required moving around a lot of games to accommodate various byes as well as nonconference matchups for some teams outside of the first few weeks. All told, only five of Arizona’s original nine league contests would be the same week as originally scheduled.

Here’s what we came up with:

  • Sept. 12 at Cal
  • Sept. 19 vs. Washington State
  • Sept. 26 vs. Stanford
  • Oct. 3 at UCLA
  • Oct. 10 OFF
  • Oct. 17 USC
  • Oct. 23 (Fri) at Washington
  • Oct. 31 vs. Oregon
  • Nov. 7 at Oregon State
  • Nov. 14 at Utah
  • Nov. 20 (Fri) vs. Colorado
  • Nov. 28 vs. ASU

Will any of these end up being the actual schedule? No clue. If we knew that we’d be making Larry Scott money ... but doing a lot more to earn it.