Well here's some news that I wasn't expecting to drop today. Illinois has scheduled a home-and-home series with North Carolina that will be played during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The first meeting will be played at North Carolina with the Tar Heels coming to Champaign in 2016.
"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 Mike Thomas in the release. "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."
Personally, I'm a fan of this announcement. And not just because it provides us a chance to get revenge for 2005.
I also like it because, while North Carolina should have recovered from its NCAA problems by 2015, it's a quality ACC program to face, but not a juggernaut either. Plus it never hurts to play on the Atlantic coast since it's such a recruiting stronghold these days, and I'm not sure when the Illini are going to get a chance to play on the road against Maryland. So this game provides us with a presence of sorts.
I also like this announcement because it caused the Illini to reschedule that road game we had with Western Michigan in 2016. The Illini will still be playing Western Michigan, but the Broncos will be coming to Champaign. Which just makes a lot more sense.
The series with North Carolina wasn't the only announcement today, either, as the school finalized its football schedules through the 2017 season. You can see all of our football schedules right here.
Essentially the Illini completed the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the additions of Murray State and Ball State respectively.
Now, what's missing from the schedule right now is another game at Soldier Field, which is a shame. But that doesn't mean games can't be moved from Champaign to Chicago. In fact, I wouldn't be all that surprised if the 2016 game against North Carolina ends up being moved to Chicago at some point.