With the news a few weeks ago that UConn and Syracuse had reached an agreement to a two-game series, UConn Football's non-conference schedule is set through 2017. To Warde Manuel's credit, it looks pretty solid:
|2015||Villanova, Army, at Mizzou, at BYU|
|2016||Maine, at UMass (Gillette Stadium), Virginia, Syracuse|
|2017||UMass, Holy Cross, at Virginia, Mizzou|
2018 has two open dates with away games at both Syracuse and Boise State already on the docket. UConn has alternating home and away dates with Indiana and Illinois on the books for 2019 and 2020. There is also a series with Tennessee which has been
canceled suspended indefinitely.
So that means we're looking for two home games in 2018, with one of those likely to be an FCS opponent, and two games in 2019 and 2020. Here's who I'd like to see fill those slots, using info from FBS Schedules.
I know, I know, ew, right? But New Jersey is a key recruiting area for UConn, and the opportunity to demonstrate supremacy over the Big Ten "up-and-comers" should be enticing. There is also some history in this series, and a good opportunity for fans from each side to attend both legs of a home-and-home.
Rutgers gets a short trip for an away game, a lot of visitors for a home game, and two games against a beatable FBS opponent.
Possible slots: 2018 at UConn, at Jersey 2019 or 2020
The "this could have been a Big East match-up if the Catholic schools weren't such selfish jerks and let Penn State in when they had the chance and maybe none of this shit would have even happened" Bowl!
Playing Penn State offers an opportunity, again, to play in front of talented recruits and, unlike with Rutgers, play against a storied program. Penn State is by far the most successful football program in the Northeast, and Beaver Stadium is an iconic venue. There is nothing but upside for UConn.
For Penn State, the benefits are similar to those for Rutgers, except the Nittany Lions would see UConn as a more beatable opponent. I'm not saying the Huskies would lose these games, but we need to be realistic about the perception of UConn Football right now. If a series was announced today, Penn State's leadership would have done so thinking of a series with UConn as a very winnable couple of games.
Possible slots: 2019-2021, home and/or away. To sweeten the pot, maybe try to do a third one in New York City?
I've always loved hating Pitt. They were probably my favorite rival from the true Big East while I was in school. They have a new coach in Pat Narduzzi, who should be able to breathe life into a program that has struggled despite having a rich local prospect pool, strong NFL presence, decent history and urban location.
Possible slots: 2018 at UConn (bonus points for Pitt and 'Cuse games in the same season), 2019-2021 at Pittsburgh
Take a basketball rivalry with some juice and hope some of it translates to the football field. Duke used to be terrible at tackle football, but head coach David Cutcliffe has successfully orchestrated a turnaround of the program. The Blue Devils won the ACC Coastal Division in 2013 and finished second in 2014 with 10 and 9 win seasons, respectively.
Possible slots: 2019 or later
Not every opening needs to be filled with a marquee opponent. ODU is a newcomer to the FBS ranks, having just joined Conference USA in 2014. They should give UConn a somewhat beatable opponent and another good opportunity to play in front of talented recruits, this time in southern Virginia. I have heard the Old Dominion campus is magnificent, and I'm certain that Norfolk, Virginia is lovely in September.
The big play here is recruiting, but also us early-stage FBS programs gotta stick together!
Possible slots: 2018 at UConn, maybe sign a four-game series locking up future dates and prolonged presence in the area
The other fake Huskies have been the class of the MAC, and would be a very compelling opponent to add to the schedule. We could visit them in 2019 and they could accommodate a return visit to Storrs in 2022 (I told you, some schools have really filled out their future schedule!). UConn has made some inroads with recruits in Illinois and would benefit from this opportunity to expand the #brand.
You knew it was coming. I understand there is not much benefit for BC to play UConn, assuming they don't care about having a lively game day atmosphere or away games for students and local fans to be readily able to attend. Heck, even BC Interruption and the BC school newspaper are on board! So why not make it happen? You chicken?
Possible slots: 2019-2022 is looking lean for the Eagles right now, they could potentially accommodate a visit to Rentschler in 2018. I would even be for a 3-game series with the third game at Fenway, that might help the Eagles faithful come down from their perch.
Those are my choices to fill out the UConn non-conference schedule. They are in UConn-friendly recruiting areas, some possess a little history with the Huskies and most are within a reasonable driving distance for a weekend trip. This is not one-sided, though. I do think adding UConn to the schedule would be in the interest of the schools I mentioned. Feel free to share any suggestions in the comments.