It will be another late night at Autzen Stadium when Arizona visits Oregon on Nov. 16.
The Ducks will host the Wildcats for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on ESPN, marking the third time in six home football games this season that Oregon will play at 7:30 or later. The Ducks have not had a home game start before 4:30 p.m.
“Obviously, we are disappointed,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said Monday morning in an interview with The Register-Guard during a break from his duties as chairman of the College Football Committee, which will unveil its initial rankings Tuesday. “We have a very passionate fan base that has been supportive of our team this year and we’d love to have an afternoon game. We are six games in and they are all at 4 o’clock or later with five of them at night.”
ESPN had the first choice of Pac-12 games on Nov. 16 for its 7:30 p.m. window and chose Oregon and Arizona.
UCLA and Utah were picked by Fox for a 5 p.m. start with USC and California on Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. The game times for Arizona State at Oregon State and Stanford at Washington State have yet to be announced, but one will be at 1:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks with the other at 4:30 on Fox Sports 1.
Each week, the networks that carry Pac-12 games have an order to select which games they want to put in predetermined time windows.
“We are in the middle of a contract and there are some benefits to that contract, but one of the unfortunate, unintended consequences was late TV windows,” Mullens said. “We have all taken note of what the experience has been like and how hard it is on our fans. … Our TV partners have invested significant resources in the Pac-12 and added exposure in other ways. It is all a balance, but it is unfortunate when you get a string like we did at Oregon this year.”
Oregon announced a sellout crowd of 59,361 for a 37-35 win over Washington State on Oct. 26 that began at 7:30. The Ducks drew 50,529 for a rare Friday game on Oct. 11 against Colorado that began at 7 p.m.
Oregon’s home opener against Nevada on Sept. 7 had an attendance of 50,920 for a 4:30 kickoff. The following week, a crowd of 49,098 arrived for a 7:45 p.m. kick against Montana. The Pac-12 home opener against Cal kicked off at 5 p.m. Oct. 5 in front of 54,766.
“Obviously, our fans prefer afternoon games and they are very understanding of an occasional night game,” Mullens said. “Some of this is tied to team performance. When you are performing well, it depends on the draft order, and we had the misfortune that when it is our turn to be the first pick it has been a night game.
"We have a large part of our fan base that drives a significant amount of time and they get concerned about a game that ends well into the night and then they have to drive home. We appreciate those fans that showed up for Colorado and Washington State when it ended late and they still found a way to get to Autzen.”
Oregon (8-1) heads into its bye week with an eight-game winning streak and ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll as it awaits the CFP ranking.
The Ducks are 6-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2012 and close to clinching a spot in the Pac-12 title game as they hold a 2½-game lead over Oregon State (3-2) and a three-game edge over Stanford (3-3) in the North Division with three games left in the regular season. Arizona (4-5) sits fifth in the South Division at 2-4.
Oregon closes out its home schedule against Oregon State on Nov. 30 with a game time yet to be determined. Mullens said there remain “a few thousand” tickets for the game against Arizona.
“It will be close (to a sellout),” he said. “We have been able to get close or sell out the last couple games. It is more important than ever coming down the stretch because we want to take advantage of playing in Autzen. We have a lot of work to do to sell out Arizona and Oregon State.”
With the football game at night, the Oregon women’s basketball team finalized a 2 p.m. start time for its game Nov. 16 against Texas Southern at Matthew Knight Arena.