Analysis: Ranking Washington’s 10 most intriguing conference realignment matchups

Change can be a good thing.

Or something intriguing, at least.

More than two weeks after USC and UCLA agreed to join the Big Ten in 2024, the fate of the Pac-12 – or 10? – remains frustratingly fluid. The conference realignment has come to a temporary halt, while the Pac-12 negotiates its next media rights deal in an exclusive 30-day window with ESPN and FOX.

(Recall that FOX owns the seismic rights to the Big Ten jumbo, which just poached USC and UCLA, so it’s unlikely to submit a bid.)

If ESPN’s offer satisfies the remaining members of the Pac-12, the conference can stick together…or even expand. The Pac-12 could also proactively partner with the ACC or merge with the Big 12 – its potential poacher. Both options would theoretically boost TV revenue while positioning the Pac-12 — or Big Pac, or P-ACC — as a viable No. 3 behind the SEC’s dueling Big Ten and Death Stars.

But, if ESPN’s offer falls flat, the Pac-12 could fall apart – with the Big 12 and ACC left to pick up the pieces.

Whichever scenario wins, Washington football fans could be presented with new and compelling matchups in 2024 and beyond.

For now, let’s assume the Big Ten and SEC stick to 16 programs each, excluding UW (momentarily) from the super conference draws. In the event of a partnership, merger or membership with the Big 12 or the ACC, here are the Huskies’ 10 most intriguing games.

10.Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech has slotted into an annual competitive schedule — with six division titles, four ACC titles, and enough Mike Vick highlights to send you into a YouTube stupor.

But it’s not just about football.

UW and Virginia Tech also tout two of college football’s premier traditions, as the sailgaters descend on Husky Stadium from the shores of Lake Washington, while the Hokies enter Lane Stadium in the frenzied fury of “Enter Sandman.”

If you’re drawn to the pomp and circumstance of college football, this is one home series you wouldn’t want to miss.

9. T&Cs

If UW is serious about signing Texas State, games with TCU — a mainstay in the Dallas-Fort Worth market — could pay serious dividends.

Of course, UW is currently doing damage in the Lone Star State, with two 2023 commitments from Texas — four-star defensive lineman Anthony James and three-star defensive back Diesel Gordon. Arlington four-star safety Jordan Sanford could also join that list when he announces his engagement Aug. 4.

UW had moderate success in mining Texas under Chris Petersen, with Levi Onwuzurike and Aaron Fuller notable successes. The Huskies could add to that list under Kalen DeBoer.

8. Kansas State

2023 four-star quarterback Avery Johnson made an official visit to UW in early June, but the Maize, Kansas, eventually committed to neighboring Kansas. The Huskies accepted a verbal promise from three-star Pierre, South Dakota quarterback Lincoln Kienholz instead.

In 2024, UW could possibly face Johnson as the starting quarterback for the Wildcats. The preview stories write themselves.


OK, so UW and BYU have played a lot already — with Washington winning the most recent matchups in 2018 and 2019. The Huskies are 7-4 against the Cougars.

But given the recent transfer of standout receiver Puka Nacua from UW to BYU, BYU’s reluctance to schedule UW in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and the programs’ shared recruiting territory, there’s no shortage of intrigue at meetings. future.

6. North Carolina

As two top brands on opposite coasts, Washington and North Carolina have never met in a football game.

So from that point of view, sign us up. But UW and North Carolina are also two of the most valuable programs outside of the Big Ten/SEC umbrella. UW is an obvious choice if the Big Ten continue to grow, while North Carolina — currently tied to the ACC rights-granting deal — could be attractive to the Big Ten or the SEC.

Maybe, until the super conferences are called, these programs will just play off each other.

5. Baylor

UW could have the opportunity to face the best team in Texas.

No, not the Longhorns. Not Texas A&M or TCU or Texas Tech either.

We are talking about Baylor.

At 11-2, Baylor won the Big 12 championship last December, then beat SEC foe Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. Oh, and the Bears did it all in Dave Aranda’s second season on the job.

Of course, a lot can change in 2-3 seasons, but it looks like Aranda is building something in Baylor. And from a recruiting and results perspective, this would be an important game for UW.

4. State of Florida

Planning the first matchup between Washington and Florida State college football blue bloods doesn’t require a lot of selling.

But here’s a partially related question: Would the UW consider recruiting more regularly from Florida State? The Huskies have moved in that direction in the 2023 class, providing 10 Sunshine State prospects. But that may have more to do with director of player personnel Courtney Morgan’s existing relationships than a strategic move to further expand UW’s recruiting reach.

Geographically, it’s a tough sell. But Florida is still brimming with talent, and an FSU game could put the Huskies on new recruiting radars.

3. State of Iowa

At first glance, a UW-Iowa State pairing doesn’t seem particularly interesting.

But consider that Washington reportedly offered Iowa State’s Matt Campbell his head coaching job this offseason, only to be voted out and signed Kalen DeBoer. Now, DeBoer could lead his Huskies in a meeting against Campbell two (or three or four) years later.

Yeah, that’s a more compelling argument.


For all Power Five programs that have long sought Big Boys Club membership, Clemson is the model.

When Dabo Swinney took over at Clemson in 2008, the Tigers hadn’t won a conference championship in 17 years. They had also claimed only one national title so far, one less than UW.

Swinney has helped Clemson earn six playoff appearances and two national titles in the 14 seasons since.

If Washington ever wants to advertise itself as a national title contender, overthrowing Clemson would certainly help.


Where do we start?

This pair has history, as the Huskies upset Miami 38-20 in 1994 to snap the Hurricanes’ 58-game home winning streak in a game later dubbed “The Whammy in Miami.” (To put it into perspective, Miami hadn’t lost a home game since nine years before the Huskies head east.)

He also has a grudge. After Oregon defeated UW 26-16 inside Husky Stadium last fall, a Duck player recorded head coach Mario Cristobal telling his team, “These (expletive) guys right there, they represent everything that is wrong with football. So when you kick their asses, you let them know.

Now, backed by a boatload of NIL money, Cristobal attempts to build a dynasty in Miami – his alma mater.

One day, the Washington Huskies – his former (and future?) rival – could stand in his way.

Honorable Mentions: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Cincinnati

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