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Canzano: 2023 Pac-12 Conference football schedule is set


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USC will have a bye week before the Pac-12 Conference title game. Deion Sanders' first conference game as a coach will come at Oregon. And Washington faces a rigorous test in November of next college football season.

The Pac-12 Conference athletic directors voted over the three-day weekend to approve the football schedule for next season. The conference will officially reveal the full schedule on Wednesday on the Pac-12 Networks at 10 a.m. PT.

What I expect:

• The schedule will include a floating Pac-12 championship game that will be played in Las Vegas on either Friday, Dec. 1 or Saturday, Dec. 2, I'm told.

• The Civil War rivalry game between Oregon and Oregon State will be played on Friday, Nov. 24. It's the only Pac-12 game set for "Black Friday" and one of two Friday games the Beavers are scheduled to play in 2023. OSU will also play Friday, Sept. 29 at home vs. Utah. (Colorado is the only other team in the conference that currently has two Friday games on the schedule.)

• Oregon and USC will play in Eugene on Nov. 11. I've noted that game on my calendar. It's the matchup I really wanted to see in the middle of last season.

• Washington and Oregon will both enjoy bye weeks before facing each other on Oct. 14 at Husky Stadium, I'm told. Will sides still bellyache? Discuss.

• The Huskies play at USC (Nov. 4), then host Utah seven days later (Nov. 11). UW plays at Oregon State on Nov. 18. Those three opponents were a combined 21-6 in Pac-12 play last season. The month of November will make/break Kalen DeBoer's team.

• Week 11 of the Pac-12 season (Nov. 11) will be made for TV. USC will play at Oregon that week. Utah travels to Washington the same week. The conference may be hunting for some exposure and the glow of the late-season national spotlight.

• Colorado will open conference play vs. Oregon at Autzen Stadium (Sept. 23), then turn around and face USC at home the following Saturday. The Buffaloes conference schedule is front-loaded with those two games. They'll get eyeballs.

• Washington State and UCLA take their bye weeks early in the season (Week 5). That leaves both teams with eight games in eight weeks to finish the regular season. Will Chip Kelly be happy about playing eight straight "Super Bowls" without a break?

• The Cougars and coach Jake Dickert open Pac-12 play at home vs. Oregon State on Sept. 23 (Week 4).

• USC has scheduled a Week 0 non-conference game vs. San Jose State. That affords the Trojans the opportunity to take two bye weeks (Week 3 and 13) later in the season. The final week off for USC comes immediately before the conference title game.

• Arizona State will play five of the first six games of the Kenny Dillingham-era at home. The schedule is built to establish some early confidence and possible bowl momentum. ASU plays a total of eight home games in 2023.

• Arizona will open conference play at Stanford on Sept. 23. The Wildcats also have a yet-to-be-determined Friday/Saturday game at USC in Week 6.

• Cal will open Pac-12 play at Washington on Sept. 23. The Big Game at Stanford will fall on Nov. 18, the second-to-last game of the season for the Bears.

• It's a nine-game conference schedule once again for the Pac-12. There's been talk about the Pac-12 dropping to eight conference games, but some members have expressed mild opposition. Mostly because they don't believe finding a fourth non-conference game would be affordable and easy without more planning. A potential move to eight conference games in 2024 is still on the table, per a source.

• The AD vote on the schedule wasn't unanimous. There were three final drafts presented to the members, I'm told. The process gave each school a chance to vote for their preferred version. Five points were awarded to each institution's No. 1 pick, three points for the No. 2 pick, and one point for No. 3 choice.

The "A" draft won. It received a first-place vote from eight of the 12 conference athletic directors. The "B" and "C" drafts each received two first-place votes.

Read more of columnist John Canzano exclusively at JohnCanzano.com.

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John Canzano is a sports columnist and radio show host. He's worked at six newspapers and has won 11 Associated Press Sports Editors Awards in column writing, investigative reporting and projects. He lives in Oregon and hosts a daily statewide radio show there. Read more of his content at JohnCanzano.com.

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