On Tuesday, the Pac-12 conference released its schedule for the 2021 college football season, and league schools will combine for nine games against Power 5 opponents outside of the conference as well as two against Notre Dame. The most interesting note is that rebuilding Stanford has arguably the nation's toughest schedule as it's the only school in the country that will play solely Power 5 schools. The Cardinal are +15000 long shots to win the national title at William Hill Sportsbook. Conference futures and regular-season win totals will be released later. SportLine oddsmakers project Stanford to be set about Over/Under 8 wins.
Pac-12 schools play nine conference games, which means only three non-conference. Stanford opens on Sept. 4 against Big 12 opponent Kansas State at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas in the Allstate Kickoff Classic. The game was originally to be played in Manhattan, Kan., but money talks. The Cardinal and Wildcats last met to open the 2016 season and Stanford won 26-13 at home thanks to a big game from Christian McCaffrey. Stanford has covered its past five games against the spread vs. Big 12 schools.
Also out of conference, Stanford visits fellow academic powerhouse Vanderbilt of the SEC on Sept. 18 and hosts Notre Dame on Nov. 27. The Cardinal and Commodores have never meet in football. Stanford and Notre Dame play every year but for 2020 because of the pandemic. The Irish have won and covered the past two in the series.
Stanford's Pac-12 opener is Sept. 11 against Southern Cal in Los Angeles, with the Trojans likely to be the betting favorites to win the Pac-12 South again. Stanford is also the only Power 5 school in the country that will play its first three games away from home to begin the 2021 season.
Coach David Shaw's team was 4-2 in the shortened 2020 season. Quarterback Davis Mills (in a pretty big surprise), receiver Simi Fehoko (first-team All-Pac-12) and center Drew Dalman all decided to declare for the NFL Draft when they could have returned to the Farm. Senior Jack West, who has started two career games at Stanford, and sophomore Tanner McKee, who played one game last season, will battle to replace Mills under center.
The first conference team to take the field this fall will be UCLA on Aug. 28 vs. Hawaii. All 12 schools then play the following week (two games Sept. 2, one Sept. 3 and nine Sept. 4). The biggest non-conference game should be Oregon at Ohio State on Sept. 11. Five teams -- Arizona, Utah, Arizona State, Washington State and USC -- have nonconference games against BYU.
The Pac-12 title game is set for Friday, Dec. 3, in Las Vegas. No Pac-12 school has reached the College Football Playoff since following the 2016 season.
Stanford 2021 football schedule
- Sept. 4 at Kansas State (in Arlington, Texas)
- Sept. 11 at USC
- Sept. 18 at Vanderbilt
- Sept. 25 vs. UCLA
- Oct. 2 vs. Oregon
- Oct. 8 at Arizona State
- Oct. 16 at Washington State
- Oct. 30 vs. Washington
- Nov. 5 vs. Utah
- Nov. 13 at Oregon State
- Nov. 20 vs. California
- Nov. 27 vs. Notre Dame
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