BYU football has announced a three-game series with the Arizona Wildcats. The former WAC rivals will play a 2016 neutral-site game in Phoenix, followed by a 2018 game in Tucson, Ariz., and a return-trip in 2020 to Provo, Utah.
The Cougars, who last faced Arizona in a 31-21 loss at the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl, will make the announcement official Friday morning in a Google+ Hangout that included athletic director Tom Holmoe and former BYU tight end Chad Lewis.
The 2016 game will be played at University of Phoenix stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals.
“We’re trying to play these neutral games, and we have a couple on the docket in the future,” Holmoe said. “It’s a neutral venue, but it’s in Arizona, and I’m sure that Arizona fans will come out in droves. But outside of Utah, there are more members of the LDS faith in California and Arizona. Our fans will be right up there. I would think that our team would think this is a great opportunity to match up with the Wildcats and have a great home atmosphere in Phoenix.”
The last time a BYU team beat Arizona was in 2007, a 20-7 victory in Provo. The Wildcats, though, have won two of the last three meetings.
“This is big time," Lewis said. "It’s big-time competition and a big-time place to play. For us to play in a pro stadium, it’s going to be awesome.”
In the offseason, former Arizona co-offensive coordinator Robert Anae left the Wildcats to rejoin former boss Bronco Mendenhall at BYU as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach. That started a shakeup that saw four other new coaches for the Cougars' 2013-14 campaign, with the additions of running backs coach Mark Atuaia, quarterbacks coach Jason Beck, receivers coach Guy Holliday and offensive line coach Garett Tujague.
For full details of the announcement, see the following video.
“Tucson is our foundation. We have to be strong in Southern Arizona," Arizona AD Greg Byrne said. "But we are the University of Arizona, and we have a strong alumni network in the Phoenix area. We also know BYU has a strong following Arizona, as well, and we appreciate BYU’s openness to do this, as well.”