This kind of development is what most people, including fans, were hoping for when the College Football Playoff — and its reliance at least in part on strength of schedule — was unveiled.
In the latest sign that FBS football programs are looking to beef-up its future non-conference slates, Texas A&M and UCLA announced early Thursday afternoon that they have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series. The Aggies will host the Bruins at Kyle Field Sept. 3, 2016, with A&M making its first trek to the West Coast for a regular season game in two decades the following year on Sept. 2.
The 2016 game will mark the first-ever game in College Station for the Bruins.
The two rising programs have met four times previously, the last coming in the 1998 Cotton Bowl. A&M won the first two games of the “series” (1940, 1951) while UCLA has taken the last two, the first of which came in 1955 at the expense of second-year Aggie head coach Bear Bryant.
“We are very pleased this series was able to come together and provides our program with an exciting, premier non-conference matchup against UCLA,”A&M athletic director Eric Hyman stated. “UCLA brings one of the top programs from the West Coast to the redeveloped Kyle Field in Aggieland, and for our Aggie team and the 12thMan to have the chance to play in the Rose Bowl is a historic opportunity.”
The series with UCLA continues a Pac-12 trend for the Aggies. A&M will face Arizona State in Houston, Tex., next season, while they have a home-and-home scheduled with Oregon for 2018 and 2019.
Likewise, UCLA has beefed up its future slates with series scheduled against Oklahoma (2018 and 2019) and Michigan (2022 and 2023) on the horizon. UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero gave a nod in the general direction of the new system that will determine a national champion in football as an impetus behind the scheduling trend.
“Facing tough non-conference competition is a necessity with the new playoff system beginning this year,” Guerrero said.
Interestingly, A&M last May scrubbed a future series with UCLA’s cross-town rival USC, citing SEC scheduling concerns.