Arizona Wildcats potential future football non-conference opponents: SEC

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The Arizona Wildcats’ football program, the only Pac-12 team without an opponent from the Power 5 conferences between 2015-2020, has seven non-conference slots to fill in those six years. This site has taken a look at potential teams from Power 5 conferences other than the Pac-12, who could play against the Wildcats. The other four conferences include the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC. Notre Dame is a major independent that will play five ACC opponents each year. BYU is also an independent and it plays Arizona in 2016, 2018 and 2020. The Cougars have recently competed in the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference.

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The launch of the SEC Network yesterday as part of the ESPN family is a case of the rich becoming richer in terms of national publicity. Every major outlet will carry the network.

The Pac-12 still can’t strike a deal with DirecTV to carry its network, which started in 2012.

The perception — or, in my opinion, the reality — of the situation is the SEC is far ahead of the Pac-12 on the power scale. Not only has the SEC won seven of the last eight national titles, the conference annually lands the top recruits, produces marquee players and annually has multiple made-for-TV matchups between their teams.

If the adage, “To be the best, you must beat the best,” applies, Arizona is not close to reaching the top. In the Wildcats’ 115-year history of football, they have played 11 games against SEC opponents, with only nine as regular-season scheduled matchups. Arizona’s record in those 11 games: 1-9-1. The only win was the season-opener against Auburn in Tucson in 1976.

ARIZONA FOOTBALL FUTURE OPPONENTS (2015-2020)
*Glendale, Ariz. **UA can play 13 games due to Hawaii Exemption Rule.

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
9/5 UTSA 9/3 BYU* 9/9 Houston 9/1 BYU 8/31 at Hawaii 9/5 Hawaii
9/12 at Nevada TBA Grambling St. 9/16 at UTEP 9/8 at Houston TBD 9/12 at BYU
TBD TBD TBD 9/15 UTEP TBD TBD
TBD**
Openings: 1 1 1 0 3 1


Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, with an SEC background at Mississippi State, understands the allure of the mighty SEC. He helped schedule a future series between Arizona and the Bulldogs in 2022 and 2023.

History suggests that series might be the extent of Arizona going into the South to play an SEC team. Rich Rodriguez recruits that area heavily, especially in Florida and Georgia. When Rodriguez gets Arizona’s program on solid ground, perhaps he will change the mentality of the program and attempt to beat the best with more regularity.

The problem is the Pac-12 in general does not schedule games with the SEC. Only six games between the conferences are scheduled through 2020. Texas A&M is part of five of them.

SEC DATA

Arizona’s overall regular-season record against: 1-8.

Last regular-season game: Sept. 9, 2006, lost at LSU 45-3.

Most played in regular season: Missouri and LSU, three times each. Arizona has a 0-3 record in each series.

Never played in regular season: A majority of the SEC teams (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt). The Wildcats played two SEC teams in the Sun Bowl — Georgia (1985) and Auburn (1968).

Chances for scheduling an SEC team: Byrne used his background at Mississippi State as a way to secure a series in 2022 and 2023 with the Bulldogs. That might be the only link with the powerful conference. Arizona has played only 11 games against the SEC overall, including two in bowl games. That means out of the 1,047 games overall played by the Wildcats in their history, only 11 (or less than 1 percent) of the games are against SEC opponents. Although games against the SEC would be a welcome attraction for many Arizona fans, don’t count on it happening other than the Mississippi State series.


ArizSEC

Forget about it: Mike Stoops’ brother Mark Stoops, Arizona’s former defensive coordinator when the elder Stoops was head coach, is the coach at Kentucky. So count the other Wildcats out of the picture. Furthermore, Kentucky has not played a Pac-12 team in the regular season since 1976 when it beat Oregon State. … Alabama and Arkansas will play Arizona any time soon, especially because Rich Rodriguez does not see eye to eye with Nick Saban and Bret Bielema about the quick offensive pace of a game. Alabama has played only three regular-season games against Pac-12 foes in the last 36 years and Arkansas has played only two times — both against USC — in 2005 and 2006. … Texas A&M already has a Pac-12 opponent scheduled each year through 2019 — ASU (at Houston in 2015), UCLA (2016 and 2017), Oregon (2018 and 2019). …

Intriguing: Rodriguez’s recruiting ties to the South, particularly Florida, could make a series against the Gators something to watch in 2018-20. By then, Rodriguez should have Arizona’s program on solid ground, in years seven to nine of his tenure in Tucson. The problem is Florida does not travel for non-conference games, so a home-and-home arrangement will be close to impossible. The last time Florida played a non-conference road game outside the state of Florida (excluding bowl games) was 1991 at Syracuse in which it was beat 38-21. … If Auburn can play Washington State, like it did last year, why not Arizona? The only thing is the Cougars are not getting a return visit from the Tigers. Arizona should not settle for such an arrangement. … During the recent recruitment of five-star defensive lineman Khalil McKenzie it was learned that Rodriguez and Tennessee coach Butch Jones share a friendship. Could that lead into a potential series? A trip to Neyland Stadium and playing in front of 100,000 fans singing “Rocky Top” would be something else, wouldn’t it? Tennessee has 11 openings from 2018-20. … Missouri played a recent home-and-home series against ASU, so a series with Arizona should be feasible. The Tigers have 14 openings from 2016 to 2020. … Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vandy have plenty of openings too through 2020. …

SEC upcoming games vs. Pac-12 through 2020 (only six of them, five by one team — Texas A&M): Alabama vs. USC at Arlington, Texas, in the 2016 season. Texas A&M vs. ASU (2015 in Houston), UCLA (2016), at UCLA (2017), at Oregon (2018) and Oregon (2019).

SEC OPENINGS (2015-2020)
Source: FBSchedules.com. Number in parenthesis is number of openings. *-UA does not have an opening.

RED – Not likely or not at all.

2015 2016 2017 2018* 2019 2020
Alabama (2) Alabama (2) Alabama (3) Alabama (4) Alabama (4) Alabama (4)
Arkansas (0) Arkansas (2) Arkansas (3) Arkansas (3) Arkansas (3) Arkansas (4)
Auburn (0) Auburn (2) Auburn (3) Auburn (4) Auburn (4) Auburn (4)
Florida (0) Florida (1) Florida (2) Florida (3) Florida (4) Florida (4)
Georgia (0) Georgia (3) Georgia (2) Georgia (3) Georgia (2) Georgia (4)
Kentucky (3) Kentucky (3) Kentucky (4) Kentucky (4) Kentucky (4) Kentucky (4)
LSU (0) LSU (0) LSU (1) LSU (4) LSU (4) LSU (3)
Mississippi (0) Mississippi (1) Mississippi (0) Mississippi (3) Mississippi (4) Mississippi (4)
Mississippi St. (1) Mississippi St. (1) Mississippi St. (3) Mississippi St. (3) Mississippi St. (3) Mississippi St. (2)
Missouri (2) Missouri (4) Missouri (3) Missouri (2) Missouri (2) Missouri (3)
South Carolina (0) South Carolina (1) South Carolina (3) South Carolina (3) South Carolina (3) South Carolina (4)
Tennessee (1) Tennessee (3) Tennessee (1) Tennessee (3) Tennessee (4) Tennessee (4)
Texas A&M (0) Texas A&M (1) Texas A&M (1) Texas A&M (3) Texas A&M (1) Texas A&M (4)
Vanderbilt (0) Vanderbilt (1) Vanderbilt (1) Vanderbilt (3) Vanderbilt (1) Vanderbilt (4)

BIG 12 CONFERENCE OPENINGS (2015-2020)
Source: FBSchedules.com. Number in parenthesis is number of openings. *-UA does not have an opening.

2015 2016 2017 2018* 2019 2020
Baylor (0) Baylor (0) Baylor (0) Baylor (1) Baylor (0) Baylor (3)
Iowa St. (0) Iowa St. (0) Iowa St. (0) Iowa St. (0) Iowa St. (0) Iowa St. (0)
Kansas (0) Kansas (0) Kansas (0) Kansas (1) Kansas (2) Kansas (2)
Kansas St. (0) Kansas St. (2) Kansas St. (2) Kansas St. (1) Kansas St. (1) Kansas St. (3)
Oklahoma (0) Oklahoma (1) Oklahoma (1) Oklahoma (1) Oklahoma (2) Oklahoma (2)
Oklahoma St. (0) Oklahoma St. (0) Oklahoma St. (0) Oklahoma St. (0) Oklahoma St. (2) Oklahoma St. (1)
TCU (0) TCU (0) TCU (1) TCU (1) TCU (2) TCU (2)
Texas (0) Texas (0) Texas (0) Texas (1) Texas (2) Texas (2)
Texas Tech (0) Texas Tech (1) Texas Tech (0) Texas Tech (2) Texas Tech (3) Texas Tech (2)
West Virginia (0) West Virginia (1) West Virginia (1) West Virginia (1) West Virginia (2) West Virginia (1)

BIG TEN CONFERENCE OPENINGS (2015-2020)
Source: FBSchedules.com. Number in parenthesis is number of openings. *-UA does not have an opening.

2015 2016 2017 2018* 2019 2020
Indiana (0) Indiana (0) Indiana (1) Indiana (3) Indiana (2) Indiana (2)
Maryland (0) Maryland (0) Maryland (0) Maryland (0) Maryland (0) Maryland (0)
Michigan (0) Michigan (1) Michigan (1) Michigan (2) Michigan (3) Michigan (2)
Michigan St. (0) Michigan St. (0) Michigan St. (0) Michigan St. (1) Michigan St. (1) Michigan St. (1)
Ohio State (0) Ohio State (0) Ohio State (1) Ohio State (1) Ohio State (1) Ohio State (2)
Penn State (0) Penn State (0) Penn State (0) Penn State (1) Penn State (2) Penn State (1)
Rutgers (0) Rutgers (1) Rutgers (0) Rutgers (1) Rutgers (2) Rutgers (1)
Illinois (0) Illinois (0) Illinois (0) Illinois (0) Illinois (1) Illinois (2)
Iowa (0) Iowa (0) Iowa (0) Iowa (0) Iowa (1) Iowa (1)
Minnesota (0) Minnesota (0) Minnesota (0) Minnesota (2) Minnesota (1) Minnesota (3)
Nebraska (0) Nebraska (0) Nebraska (1) Nebraska (1) Nebraska (0) Nebraska (2)
Northwestern (0) Northwestern (0) Northwestern (0) Northwestern (0) Northwestern (1) Northwestern (2)
Purdue (0) Purdue (0) Purdue (2) Purdue (1) Purdue (2) Purdue (2)
Wisconsin (0) Wisconsin (0) Wisconsin (0) Wisconsin (1) Wisconsin (1) Wisconsin (2)

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE OPENINGS (2015-2020)
Source: FBSchedules.com. Number in parenthesis is number of openings. *-UA does not have an opening.

2015 2016 2017 2018* 2019 2020
Boston College (0) Boston College (2) Boston College (2) Boston College (2) Boston College (4) Boston College (3)
Clemson (0) Clemson (0) Clemson (0) Clemson (4) Clemson (4) Clemson (3)
Florida State (0) Florida State (2) Florida State (3) Florida State (3) Florida State (3) Florida State (3)
Louisville (0) Louisville (1) Louisville (3) Louisville (4) Louisville (4) Louisville (3)
N.C. State (1) N.C. State (2) N.C. State (2) N.C. State (4) N.C. State (3) N.C. State (2)
Syracuse (2) Syracuse (2) Syracuse (2) Syracuse (4) Syracuse (3) Syracuse (3)
Wake Forest (0) Wake Forest (1) Wake Forest (4) Wake Forest (2) Wake Forest (4) Wake Forest (3)
Duke (0) Duke (0) Duke (0) Duke (1) Duke (2) Duke (3)
Georgia Tech (1) Georgia Tech (1) Georgia Tech (2) Georgia Tech (1) Georgia Tech (2) Georgia Tech (3)
Miami (1) Miami (1) Miami (2) Miami (2) Miami (3) Miami (3)
N. Carolina (0) N. Carolina (3) N. Carolina (2) N. Carolina (2) N. Carolina (4) N. Carolina (4)
Pitt (1) Pitt (1) Pitt (2) Pitt (3) Pitt (1) Pitt (3)
Virginia (0) Virginia (0) Virginia (0) Virginia (2) Virginia (3) Virginia (3)
Virginia Tech (0) Virginia Tech (0) Virginia Tech (0) Virginia Tech (1) Virginia Tech (0) Virginia Tech (0)

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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