For agreeing to play a home-and-home against Northern Illinois in 2018 and 2019, Utah will receive ... the opportunity to play Northern Illinois in 2018 and 2019.
Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill told The Tribune on Monday afternoon that NIU did not provide Utah any special incentive — financial or otherwise — to visit DeKalb in 2018. Rather, the Huskies provide Utah with the type of respectable-but-beatable opponent that Utah is looking to add each year in addition to an FCS opponent.
"This year’s schedule is really, really hard," said Hill of a slate that one ESPN insider rated as the toughest in the nation. "... We want to balance a competitive schedule with getting wins and building confidence."
The obvious question as Utah’s schedule fills in: Where’s Utah State? The Utes don’t have any games scheduled against the Aggies after next year’s game in Salt Lake City, and if they choose to play BYU or another opponent in 2019, then they would have to buy out of a game to play Utah State before 2020.
"We want to try to figure it out," Hill said. "... We’re the only school in the country that plays nine league games and two in-state rivals. ... Part of it is, it’s just more difficult than people think."
— Matthew Piper
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