Pac-12 to Play 10-Game Conference-Only Football Schedules Beginning Sept. 26, Including Multiple Week 1 Rivalry Games

By Dan Hope on July 31, 2020 at 4:30 pm
Pac-12 Championship Game
Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 is planning to play a 10-game conference-only football schedule that will begin on Sept. 26 with multiple rivalry games to be played in Week 1, the conference announced Friday.

Like the SEC, which announced its plans for the upcoming season on Thursday, the Pac-12 has delayed the start of the season by three weeks while moving its conference championship game back two weeks to Dec. 18 or 19, with one bye week built into each team's regular-season schedule as well as an open week between the end of the regular season and the Pac-12 title game.

Those open dates are designed to give teams the flexibility to move games to their bye weeks or to the end of the regular seasons if games are unable to be played on their scheduled dates.

“The schedule and plans approved today and path to return to competition are subject to public health orders and will be taken in accordance with the health and well-being guidelines developed by our Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “The schedule and return to play plans provide for maximum flexibility and the best opportunity to play all fall sports in an environment that prioritizes safety.  At the same time, we will continue to evaluate the best available science, data and advice of public health officials as we make decisions and any required adjustments going forward.”

As a result of the revised schedule, several Pac-12 rivalry games that are typically played at the end of the season have been moved up, including Arizona State at Arizona and USC at UCLA, which are both now scheduled to be played in Week 1. That said, each team scheduled to play each other on Sept. 26 is also scheduled to have the same in-season bye week (all between Weeks 4-6), giving them the flexibility to move their season openers back if needed.

With the Pac-12's announcement Friday, three Power 5 conferences have now announced modified schedules for the 2020 season; the ACC, who was first to announce on Wednesday, is planning to play an 11-game schedule beginning the week of Sept. 7-12 that will include one non-conference game for each school in addition to 10 conference games.

The Big Ten, which was the first to announce that it will play conference games only this season, informed its schools' athletic directors in a letter on Thursday that its “scheduling for fall sports remains fluid,” but that the conference does expect to release its schedules for football and other fall sports in August with hopes of still beginning the season in September.

Like the Pac-12, which is the first conference to announce a revised football schedule with actual game dates, it has been rumored that Big Ten rivalry games like Ohio State-Michigan could be moved up as part of the conference's new football schedule, which is expected to consist of 10 games and be frontloaded with divisional games if the conference proceeds forward with a fall season, Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

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