The biggest college football scheduling news of the day dropped this morning, once it was announced that Michigan and Notre Dame would be restarting their rivalry in 2018 and 2019.
The trouble is, Michigan already had a major out-of-conference game scheduled for those years. The Wolverines decided to cancel their home and home with the Arkansas Razorbacks to make room for Notre Dame, leaving Arkansas without an SEC-mandated Power Five (or equivalent) team on the future schedules.
It’s tough to find a bigger name program free on only two years notice, so Arkansas could be in a bit of a pickle. Arkansas already seems a bit worried about it. Luckily, there’s another program the SEC considers P5 caliber who just so happens to have a few open dates both of those years.
Jeff Long? BYU’s Tom Holmoe on line one.
The Cougars already have a mostly-full 2018 slate, but there’s certainly room for one more P5 caliber program. Right now, the Cougars have open dates on Sept. 22, Oct. 13 and Nov. 3. The 2018 SEC schedule isn’t finalized yet, but Arkansas will almost certainly be open on Sept. 22 and may potentially be open on Oct. 13 as well.
Adding Arkansas would make the start of the 2018 schedule another daunting one. Lets say the Cougars start a home and home with the Razorbacks on the 22nd. The start of that schedule would be:
Projecting how difficult teams will be in 2018 is obviously a bit of a fool’s errand, but five consecutive P5 games, with three on the road, is no picnic for anybody, especially BYU. The Cougars would also face Boise State and NIU that season before finishing the year at Utah.
If we slot a return trip to Arkansas in for the opening in 2019, the schedule is also daunting. It’d look like this:
at Utah State
at Washington State
That’s a heck of a September, but perhaps the rest of the schedule could be filled out to make it more manageable for everybody.
It’s not super easy for BYU to get dates with SEC programs. They’ve made a trip to Oxford to face Ole Miss to start the independence era, begin a home and home with Mississippi State this season, and face LSU on a neutral field next year. Grabbing another game, or games, against a big name program with a lot of history would represent quite a coup for the Cougars, even if made their Septembers much harder. BYU and Arkansas have never played before, which would make a matchup even more interesting.
Arkansas might not be able to secure a name bigger than BYU to replace the Wolverines. If BYU hasn’t already reached out, it may be a good idea to do so. Both teams could help each other out in a big way.