UA’s 2013 schedule: Easy start, tougher finish

The Pac-12 unveiled 2013 football schedules Thursday, with Arizona’s featuring an even home-road split and games against five 2012 bowl teams.

The Wildcats, who went 8-5 in coach Rich Rodriguez’s first year, shouldn’t be challenged in nonconference play. They start the season at home against Northern Arizona on Aug. 31, travel to Las Vegas to take on UNLV the following week and then return to Tucson  to wrap up the nonconference portion of the schedule against Texas-San Antonio.

After an early-season bye week, UA opens Pac-12 play on the road at Washington’s renovated Husky Stadium on Sept. 28. That’s the first of back-to-back road contests, with the second a Thursday night game against USC in Los Angeles on Oct. 10.

The schedule then brings UA back to Tucson for a week to host Utah on Oct. 19 before another two-game road stint that includes trips to Colorado on Oct. 26 and Cal on Nov. 2.

The Wildcats then get three straight home games — Nov. 9 against two-time defending Pac-12 South winner UCLA, Nov. 16 against Washington State and Nov. 23 vs. Oregon, which finished second in the final Associated Press and coaches polls this year — before ending the season with the Territorial Cup game against Arizona State in Tempe.

While the front and back ends of the conference schedule appear difficult, the middle is relatively manageable, with the only road games being against two teams that finished at the bottom of the Pac-12 last year at 4-20 collectively. And the two Pac-12 teams not on UA’s schedule this season are defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Stanford and Oregon State.

Arizona’s full 2013 schedule:

Aug. 31: vs. Northern Arizona (at Arizona Stadium)
Sept. 7: at UNLV (at Las Vegas, Nev.)
Sept. 14: vs. Texas-San Antonio (at Arizona Stadium)
Sept. 21: Bye
Sept. 28: at Washington (at Seattle, Wash.)
Oct. 10: at USC (at Los Angeles, Calif.)
Oct. 19: vs. Utah (at Arizona Stadium)
Oct. 26: at Colorado (at Boulder, Colo.)
Nov. 2: at Cal (at Berkeley, Calif.)
Nov. 9: vs. UCLA (at Arizona Stadium)
Nov. 16: vs. Washington State (at Arizona Stadium)
Nov. 23: vs. Oregon (at Arizona Stadium)
Nov. 30: at ASU (at Tempe, Ariz.)