lllini football adds UNC to schedule

The Illinois football team added multiple games to its future schedules, highlighted by the announcement of a home-and-home series with North Carolina.

The Illini travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2015 but then will host the Tar Heels the following year.

“We want to keep an opponent from one of the five major conferences on the schedule,” athletic director Mike Thomas said in a press release. “Even with the challenges posed when the Big Ten moves to nine conference games. This series accomplishes that goal.”

Illinois is in the middle of a two-game series with Pac-12 opponent Washington, but the addition of North Carolina keeps a power conference team on the schedule. The Tar Heels are members of the ACC.

In addition to the North Carolina announcement, the Illini rounded out the 2016 and 2017 schedules as well. With new Big Ten alignment shifting to nine conference games per season, the Illini only have three nonconference opponents – starting in 2016.

Illinois will host Murray State and Western Michigan, along with UNC, in 2016, as well as Ball State and Western Kentucky the following year. The 2017 schedule also includes a trip to face South Florida, the first of a home-and-home series with the Bulls.

Stephen can be reached at [email protected] and @steve_bourbon.