Here's a look at Stanford's schedule in 2012 (all games on a Saturday unless otherwise noted). Let the win-loss debate begin.
Sept. 1 San Jose State at Stanford
Sept. 8 Duke at Stanford
Sept. 15 USC at Stanford
Sept. 22 Bye
(Thursday) Sept. 27 Stanford at Washington
Oct. 6 Arizona at Stanford
Oct. 13 Stanford at Notre Dame
Oct. 20 Stanford at Cal
Oct. 27 Washington State at Stanford
Nov. 3 Stanford at Colorado
Nov. 10 Oregon State at Stanford
Nov. 17 Stanford at Oregon
Nov. 24 Stanford at UCLA
Nov. 30: Pac-12 Football Championship Game (just for those of you with extra high hopes).
Nice to open up with three straight at home, but a big challenge early against USC. The bye week right afterward helps getting whoever is at quarterback ready for his first trip as a starter to Washington.
Traveling to Notre Dame is always tough -- no matter who is playing quarterback. Takes away the sting of back-to-back road games when you don't have to leave the region to play Cal.
About the Big Game being played so early, Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby said this through a release from the school: “The October 20 date for Big Game is 2012 is certainly not our first choice but the conference is governed by the will of the majority and we have a duty to respect the outcome of the vote. We will work with California and the Pac-12 office to advocate for the Big Game and all rivalry games to be scheduled toward the end of the season in future years.”
By my count, Stanford should have bowl eligibility by, at the very least, the end of the Colorado game -- though the Notre Dame-Cal stretch will be critical. Winning both would be outstanding, splitting would be passable, but dropping both could be a momentum killer because the Cardinal have three very winnable games (home to WSU, at Colorado, home to OSU) heading into Oregon.
Would rather face UCLA with new coach Jim Mora early in the season while things are still getting sorted out. By the final week, the Bruins will know what they are doing (for better or worse). Plus, depending on how things play out, it's not out of the realm of possibility that UCLA might need that final game to clinch bowl eligibility.
The extra time to study in between Washington and Arizona will be helpful for prepping against the new-look, Rich Rodriguez-led Wildcats.
Having five of the final seven games on the road is going to be rough. But better to have it that way than five of the first seven on the road with a new quarterback.
As previously mentioned in the mailbag, I see eight wins -- though I wouldn't be shocked at seven. Anything over eight would be a bonus and anything under seven would be a disappointment. I think the schedule works out nicely for a team with a new quarterback and one that will certainly be under the spotlight once again next season, albeit for different reasons than this year.