Northwestern likes to refer to itself as Chicago’s Big Ten team. Whether you buy into that or not is up to you, but the Wildcats will be making a visit to the Windy City this fall and two more times in the next few seasons.
Illinois will move three home games against Northwestern to Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, in the coming years. Illinois announced a three-game arrangement with Soldier Field that will see Illinois play Northwestern in the NFL venue in 2015, 2017 and again in 2019. Northwestern’s scheduled home games against the Illini are still planned to be played in Evanston, Illinois. Illinois hosted Washington in Soldier Field in 2013.
“It’s exciting to seize the opportunity to further engage our incredible number of Illinois alumni and fans in the Chicagoland area with these three football games coming to Soldier Field,” Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said in a released statement from Illinois. “As the flagship university in the state we are committed to all Fighting Illini, and as part of that mindset, we will continue to bring a variety of athletics events to Chicago where we have the largest alumni base of any Big Ten institution.”
Some might say them’s fightin’ words. That’s true, but playing games in Soldier Field is something Illinois and Northwestern should embrace when possible.
Soldier Field has a capacity listed at 61,500, which is roughly 900 seats more than in Memorial Stadium in Champaign and about 14,000 more seats than Northwestern’s Ryan Field. Neither school may be a huge draw on its own, but throw them in an easy-to-get-to neutral site in a city like Chicago and the potential to sell some tickets over the Thanksgiving weekend should be intriguing. That’s the logic employed by Illinois at least.
“Ending the regular season at a historical site and one of the best stadiums in the world will make for a big-time event for our student-athletes and will be a great springboard for our football program into the postseason,” Thomas added in his statement.
This should go much more smoothly than the time Illinois and Northwestern last attempted to play a neutral site game in Chicago. That took place in historic Wrigley Field, a home game for Northwestern. That was a mitigated disaster with alternate rules needing to be put in place, like each team moving the same direction on the field out of fear of players running straight into the brick outfield wall.
Stadium names change all the time in college football and we’ve seen some strange mash ups over the past few decades but there’s been an interesting twist in upstate New York.
Thanks in part to a growing spat with the company over the naming rights to the aptly named Carrier Dome, Syracuse has embarked on a bit of a rebranding for their longtime football and basketball home by shortening things to just ‘The Dome.’
As spotted by Syracuse.com, the school has removed some 64 mentions of the word Carrier in their annual football media guide and have even gone as far as to leave out any mentions of the company in their season ticket materials too.
“We will be contacting the university to discuss further,” Carrier Senior Director of Communications Ashley Barrie said in a statement to the site.
Orange officials have said they are not de-emphasizing the ‘Carrier’ part of the Carrier Dome to send any sort of message but rather reinforcing the ‘Dome’ part of the stadium’s name.
Something says that as much as that may be their public stance, this rebranding battle is something that figures to get some lawyers involved in soon enough. The football team’s home opener isn’t until Sept. 14 against defending champion Clemson so there’s certainly some time to work things out but it sure seems like a new name for the venerable venue is something we’ll all have to start getting used to.
After going from AU to the ACC, tailback Asa Martin is now ticketed for the AAC.
Per 247Sports, Martin has apparently enrolled at Memphis for the 2019 season. Per transfer rules he’s sitting out the year either way unless there’s some sort of NCAA waiver involved but it’s still the sophomore’s third school in nine months.
Martin was originally a four-star recruit in the class of 2018 and saw action in five games for the SEC Tigers as a true freshman, rushing for 57 yards all told while catching two passes for 36 yards. He entered the transfer portal in late December though, just after Auburn’s season had concluded.
Eventually Martin found a home at Miami and enrolled in time for spring practice. Perhaps he was not thrilled at the situation because come mid-June the tailback was back in the transfer portal looking for a new program to play with.
We’ll see if this latest move to Memphis sticks because we’ve certainly seen that Martin is no stranger to moving around.
Tommy Stevens’ reunion with Joe Moorhead has proven to be a fruitful one.
The Penn State transfer was named the starting quarterback on Thursday by the Mississippi State head coach, ending a camp battle with Keytaon Thompson and others in the bid to replace Nick Fitzgerald under center for the Bulldogs.
Stevens made his way to Starkville rather surprisingly this offseason after spring practice for the Nittany Lions wrapped up. While he was expected to be the heir apparent to Trace McSorley in State College for the 2019 campaign, it seems that a competitive battle with fellow Penn State QB Sean Clifford pushed him to enter the NCAA transfer portal instead.
While some may have questioned the move initially given that Thompson has starting experience at MSU and in Moorhead’s system, things apparently worked out in the end as Stevens takes over for Fitzgerald instead.
A noted dual-threat with the ball in his hands at PSU, Stevens rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns last year while also passing for 110 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Mississippi State opens the season against Louisiana-Lafayette in New Orleans on Aug. 31 before their home opener against Southern Miss on Sept. 7.
The non-conference scheduling wheel in college continues to roll.
It has been a particularly busy month for Arkansas in terms of lining up future opponents. Hot on the heels of confirming another home-and-home series with Oklahoma State deep into the future, the Razorbacks announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a 2-for-1 series with old, old rival Tulsa over the next decade.
The Razorbacks will host the Golden Hurricane in Fayetteville on Nov. 21, 2026 and Sept. 1, 2029. The return trip to Tulsa is set for Sept. 4, 2027.
The regional rivals were old foes back in the day and have met 73 times over the years. Arkansas won 23-0 last season in their most recent meeting and will make their first trip to Northwest Oklahoma since 1952 when that 2027 date rolls around.
The Golden Hurricane also had some additional scheduling news from earlier in the week when they announced a home-and-home with ex-CUSA foe Louisiana Tech. The old conference rivals will meet in Ruston on Sept. 21, 2024 and then play a return game the following year on Sept. 27, 2025 at Tulsa’s H.A. Chapman Stadium.