North Carolina has not faced a team from the Big Ten since a loss to Wisconsin in 2005. Two years from now, that will change.
In a press release, UNC announced that it has reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Illinois. The Illini will travel to Chapel Hill Sept. 19, 2015, with the Tar Heels returning the favor in Champaign Sept. 10, 2016.
“[Head coach Larry] Fedora and I have been in discussions for several months about our future non-conference football opponents. We both felt Illinois would be an attractive matchup for both schools and would be a tremendous experience and opportunity for our student-athletes, staff and fans,” said UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham in a statement. “This series is an opportunity to bring a quality Big Ten program to Chapel Hill, while also providing a unique travel experience for our student-athletes.”
UNC and the Illini have met just twice in football, the last coming in 1987. The Tar Heels have won both of those matchups.
“We have worked very hard at securing future football opponents and we’re happy to be able to include a peer institution in North Carolina,” said Cunningham’s counterpart Mike Thomas. “We want to keep an opponent from one of the five major conferences on the schedule and maintain seven home games each season, even with the challenges posed when the Big Ten moves to nine conference games. This series accomplishes that goal.”
In the same release, UNC also announced that it has completed its 2014 non-conference schedule by adding Liberty (Aug. 30) and San Diego State (Sept. 6). Those are in addition to previously announced games against East Carolina and Notre Dame.
Additionally, the Illini announced that they have completed their 2017 non-conference slate with the addition of a home game against Ball State (Sept. 2). All of the Illini’s future schedules are now complete through the 2017 season.