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Arizona adds future game against FCS juggernaut North Dakota State

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You would think by now that FBS programs would have learned to avoid scheduling a game against North Dakota State, but Arizona is the latest program to dare to schedule the Bison. Arizona will host North Dakota State on September 17, 2022.

Arizona is the third Pac-12 school on a future football schedule. North Dakota state previously had games scheduled against Oregon (2020) and Colorado (2024).

North Dakota State has won six straight games against FBS opponents spanning from 2010 through 2016. Victims along the way have included Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State, Iowa State and Iowa. North Dakota State is not currently scheduled to face another FBS opponent until meeting Oregon on the road in 2020, and the future games against Arizona and Colorado are the only other games against FBS opponents currently lined up.

Of course, scheduling North Dakota State may be more acceptable to some compared to some other FCS programs or even some FBS opponents right now given the recent string of success, but how good will the Bison be by the time these games against FBS opponents come up? Who knows for sure. The Bison were just blocked from winning a national championship last season, but they will likely remain a national contender at the FCS level in 2017.

Unlike the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC, the Pac-12 does not have a scheduling requirement for teams to play another power conference opponent each season. The conference also does not restrict its members from scheduling FCS opponents, as the Big Ten has recently moved in the direction of doing. Arizona will play one FCS opponent each of the next four seasons according to the current schedule (NAU in 2017, 2019; Southern Utah in 2018; Portland State in 2020).

Civil War among two Pac-12 games changing dates for 2017 season

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It’s a relatively slow news day on the college football front but not when it comes to Pac-12 scheduling news.

As announced by the schools on Thursday afternoon, two contests for the upcoming 2017 slate are moving dates this year. This comes in addition to the announcement that Arizona State has scheduled Wyoming in 2024.

The most notable schedule change comes to the annual Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State. The end of the regular season rivalry game was set to be played on Friday, November 24th but will now be moved back a day to Saturday. It is still set to be televised on ESPN but comes as a result of the PK80 basketball tournament being held earlier in the week up the road in Portland to honor the Ducks’ most famous booster, Phil Knight.

On the non-conference front, Arizona’s trip to UTEP during Week 3 is being moved up a day from Saturday to Friday, September 15. That game is also slated to be on ESPN with a kickoff time of 10:15 pm ET. Interestingly, the school notes that with their Pac-12 opener against Utah also on Friday the following week, the Wildcats will have three straight Saturday’s off given that they have a bye after taking on the Utes.

Additional TV times, network selections and the like are set to surface from the Pac-12 at a later date this summer but for now there appears to already be some preemptive schedule changes out West.

College football spring games: Dates, TV times

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As the calendar flips from March to April, the rush of college football spring games commences in earnest.

On the Power Five side alone, there are nearly 60 spring games scheduled to be played in the month of April.  Last year around this time, Urban Meyer was urging Ohio State fans to show up en masse; the Buckeye faithful responded with a record-breaking turnout.  That six-figure record should be safe — maybe.

Channeling his inner Urban, James Franklin earlier this month very passionately challenged fans to attend Penn State’s spring game to showcase to recruits and the rest of the country that “football is a very, very important part of Penn State.” Texas seemingly has momentum, what with Tom Herman replacing Charlie Strong as head coach, and that hire could cause a spike in interest and spring butts in the seats.  Clemson, coming off its first national championship in three decades and with some question marks given key departures, will certainly see a surge in attendance, although the official seating capacity of 81,500 at Memorial Stadium would preclude them from doing anything other than (barely) cracking the Top 10 in all-time spring game attendance.

Alabama historically fares well in spring attendance — four of the Top 10 — although the last huge crowd was six years ago.  Coming off the first title-game loss under Nick Saban, don’t expect a big jump this year either.

With those storylines in mind, below is the complete slate of spring games for the next four-plus weeks.

FRIDAY, MARCH 31
Arizona, 9 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, APRIL 1
Northwestern, 11 a.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
South Carolina, noon ET (SEC Network)
North Carolina State, 1 p.m. ET
Michigan State, 3 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Texas Tech, 4 p.m. ET

FRIDAY, APRIL 7
Florida, 7 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 8
Ole Miss, noon ET (SEC Network)
Purdue, 1 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Auburn, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Iowa State, 2 p.m. ET
Oklahoma, 2 p.m. ET
Texas A&M, 2 pm. ET (ESPNU)
Clemson, 2:30 p.m. ET
Florida State, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
North Carolina, 3 p.m. ET
Wake Forest, 3 p.m. ET
Mississippi State, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
TCU (time still to be determined)

THURSDAY, APRIL 13
Indiana, 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)

FRIDAY, APRIL 14
Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 15
Ohio State, 12:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Louisville, 1 p.m. ET
Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. ET
Utah, 1 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
West Virginia, 1 p.m. ET
Kansas, 2 p.m. ET
Missouri, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Nebraska, 2 p.m. ET
Oklahoma State, 2 p.m. ET
Texas, 2 p.m. ET (Longhorn Network)
USC, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Stanford, 4 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Arizona State, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

FRIDAY, APRIL 21
Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. ET
Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Iowa (time still to be determined)

SATURDAY, APRIL 22
Syracuse, 10 a.m. ET
Boston College, noon ET
Maryland, 12:30 ET (Big Ten Network)
Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. ET
Baylor, 1 p.m. ET
Cal, 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Georgia, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Kansas State, 2 p.m. ET
Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m. ET
Alabama, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Penn State, 3 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Washington, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Tennessee, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Rutgers, 5 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Washington State, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
LSU, 8 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 29
Arkansas, 1 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Oregon, 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Virginia, 3 p.m. ET
UCLA, 4 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

*Neither Miami nor Michigan will conduct traditional spring games.
*Arizona, Duke, Illinois, Oregon State and Vanderbilt played their spring games in March.

Jim Harbaugh one of three elected to Senior Bowl Hall of Fame

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Three decades after playing in the game, Jim Harbaugh is being forever immortalized by the preeminent college football all-star game.

The Senior Bowl announced Thursday that Harbaugh is one of three players to be inducted into the game’s 29th Hall of Fame class.  The Michigan head coach will be joined in this year’s class by former Ball State Cardinal and NFL safety Blaine Bishop and former Arizona Wildcat and NFL linebacker Lance Briggs.

Harbaugh played in the 1987 version of the Senior Bowl before he was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears.

“Jim Harbaugh’s love of competition was displayed on the field during his playing days at Michigan and over his 15 years in the National Football League,” a statement from Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage began. “Now, he is recognized as one of the best coaches in the game, having achieved noteworthy success at both the college and professional levels.”

Both Harbaugh and Briggs spent extensive time with the Bears, the former for seven years (1987-93) and the latter for all 12 years of his NFL career (2003-14).  Bishop spent nine of his 10 years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans (1993-2001).  He finished off his time in the NFL in 2002 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

That trio pushes the total number of Senior Bowl Hall of Famers to 114.  To put that into perspective, more than 5,000 players have played in the senior Bowl since its inception nearly seven decades ago.

North Carolina leads Texas, Arizona in derby for ex-LSU QB Brandon Harris

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Brandon Harris is, along with former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire, a top quarterback on the transfer market right now, and the former LSU signal caller has narrowed his next school down to three choices.

Harris has announced plans to visit North Carolina, Texas and Arizona but tacitly admitted the Heels as his leader in an interview with Fox Sports’s Bruce Feldman. While visits to Austin and Tucson are lined up, Harris said of his March 23 trip to Chapel Hill, “[I]f North Carolina blows me away I’ll go to North Carolina.”

Harris is set to graduate from LSU this summer and, as such, would be immediately eligible to play for UNC. The Heels have a vacancy with Mitch Trubisky‘s graduation.

“I like the coach (Larry Fedora) and the coordinator and the situation. They’ve had some great quarterbacks back to back,” Harris said. “If I go there, I know I have the opportunity to win now. They have a winning culture. That system is friendly — and I know that quarterbacks have had great success in that system. I feel like it’s a good fit for me to go in there and compete.”

In addition to the listed contenders, Harris also told Feldman he heard from two SEC schools that would have liked him to visit.