The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many changes for the 2020 college football season, and the Pac-12 is the latest conference to make a major change in its schedule. The league announced on Friday evening its intention to play a 10-game, conference-only slate for 2020 and released dates and the order of the matchups this fall. The Pac-12 also moved its conference title game to an on-campus location and will leave the Dec. 12 weekend open for contests that may need to be rescheduled.
Here’s what you need to know about the revamped 2020 Pac-12 schedule:
The Start Date of the 2020 Pac-12 Season Has Changed
The first matchup of the Pac-12’s 2020 slate was scheduled to be California at UNLV on Aug. 29 for a Week 0 matchup. However, the start of the 2020 season has been shifted to Sept. 26. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic could create future changes to this slate.
The Pac-12 was the second league to announce a conference-only slate for 2020 in July. Friday’s schedule announcement locked in that designation for this fall, as every team in the conference added one more Pac-12 team to its fall slate.
Rivalries in Week 1…Maybe
Rivalry games are usually played in November in the week of Thanksgiving. But that’s not the case this year, as the Pac-12 has scheduled two of its biggest rivalries in Week 1: USC at UCLA and Arizona State at Arizona. However, considering California and Arizona have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the four teams are guaranteed to be ready to start play by Sept. 26. If necessary, these games could be moved to Dec. 12.
Every Pac-12 team will play 10 conference matchups, with five coming at home and five on the road.
Non-Conference Games Out for 2020
In order to navigate a season during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pac-12 will not play non-conference matchups this fall. By limiting games to conference-only contests, the Pac-12 hopes to effectively create its own bubble with testing and health standards, along with the necessary schedule flexibility to navigate 2020.
North and South Divisions Intact
The ACC decided to remove divisions and go with a 15-team, one-division format for 2020. However, the Pac-12 decided to stick with its two-division alignment this fall.
Every team will have an off date in the middle of the season. Additionally, every team slated to meet on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 share the same bye week - making it easy for a potential reschedule. Every team’s bye either falls on Oct. 17, Oct. 24 or Oct. 31. All 12 teams are also open on Dec. 12 to allow for any games to be rescheduled. That flexibility will be needed to make it through a 10-game season.
Tiebreakers for Division Titles
With the possibility of teams playing a different amount of games, the Pac-12 released updated guidelines for selecting its division champions. In the case of a two-team tie, head-to-head matchup will be the deciding factor. However, in the case of unbalanced records, there's an important caveat to picking a champion. From the Pac-12 guidelines: "In order for teams to be considered in a divisional tie-break scenario, teams must play no less than one fewer conference game than the average number of conference games played by all conference teams (rounded up/down at .50). For example, if the average number of conference games played in the 2020 season is 8.25 (value of 8 when rounded down) a team would be eligible to win their Division if that team played 7 conference games." In the case of a two-team tie, record in games played within the division will be the first tiebreaker. The complete guidelines and updated tie-break procedures are located here.
Changes to the Pac-12 Championship Game
The 2020 Pac-12 Championship Game was originally slated for Allegiant Stadium and booked for Dec. 18 or 19. However, that trip to Las Vegas will have to wait a year, as the conference title game will be held on campus in 2020. In the event of a tie, the Pac-12 released updated guidelines for determining the location of the game this fall.
One Less Bowl for 2020
The Pac-12 will have one less postseason matchup to fill in 2020, as the Redbox Bowl was canceled. As of early August, the conference has guaranteed spots in the following bowl games: Alamo, Las Vegas, Holiday, Sun, Los Angeles and Independence Bowl. The Rose Bowl is a CFB Playoff semifinal for 2020, so if the Pac-12 champion isn’t in the four-team playoff, it’s likely to find itself in one of the New Year’s Six matchups.
Added Matchups Provide Intrigue
The switch to a conference-only slate added six games to the 2020 slate: UCLA at Washington, Oregon at Utah, California at Arizona, Stanford at Arizona State, Washington State at USC, and Oregon State at Colorado. Of those six matchups, Oregon-Utah has the most intrigue. These two teams met in the Pac-12 Championship Game in 2019 and are slated to meet Dec. 5 in Salt Lake City this fall.
Every Team Misses One Opponent
With the shift to a 10-game conference-only slate, every team in the Pac-12 will miss just one team in 2020. The full list is below, with Arizona State-Washington and Stanford-Utah likely the biggest games not slated for this fall.
Health Standards and Guidance
The Pac-12 also included some health guidelines and recommendations in its schedule release on Friday. Check out the guidelines here.
Complete 2020 Pac-12 Schedule