Akron – Games at Bowl Championship Series programs Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Tennessee as well as a home-and-home series with BCS foe Pittsburgh highlight The University of Akron football program's non-league schedule for 2012-16, a portion of which was announced on Tuesday.
In addition to traveling to SEC opponent Tennessee (Sept. 22) next season, the Zips will play host to Central Florida, out of Conference USA, in the 2012 season opener on Thursday, Aug. 30 at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field. UA rounds out non-league play next year with a visit to Sun Belt Conference member Florida International on Sept. 8 – a return of this season's Homecoming contest with the Panthers in Akron on Oct. 8 – and a home game against MEAC opponent Morgan State on Sept. 15, marking the Bears' first return to UA following a 41-0 defeat in 2009 in the inaugural game at InfoCision Stadium.
"It's great for our program to have an opportunity to play in some of the more historic venues in college football," second-year Akron head coach Rob Ianello said. "I know our players will be excited to compete in these games. Also, many of these games are within driving distance, which makes it easy for our fans and the families of our players to travel and support us. By design our non-league schedule will help prepare us for MAC play each season."
Akron begins the 2013 season by traveling to UCF on Aug. 31, then returns home to take on FCS opponent James Madison, from the Colonial Athletic Association, one week later. JMU was national champion in 2004. A trip to Big Ten opponent Michigan (Sept. 14) follows during week three and then UA takes on Sun Belt Conference member Louisiana-Lafayette at home on Sept. 21. It will mark the Zips' first time facing either James Madison, Louisiana-Lafayette or Michigan. UCF competed against Akron as a Mid-American Conference member in 2002 and 2003, with the programs splitting those meetings. UA owns a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series with the Golden Knights, dating to 1984.
In 2014, the Blue and Gold will begin the home-and-home series with Pittsburgh (Sept. 27) as well as with Marshall (Sept. 20) as the Zips travel to the Panthers and face the Thundering Herd at home. Akron and Pitt have not met since 1998 and the Zips and the Herd will meet for the 12th time on the gridiron. Marshall was a member of the MAC from 1954-68 and 1977-2004. A visit to Big Ten program Penn State (Sept. 6) is also on the docket that season, the first trip to Happy Valley since 2009.
A trip to Notre Dame (Sept. 26), the return game by Pittsburgh (Sept. 12) at InfoCision Stadium and a return contest at Louisiana-Lafayette (Sept. 5) come in 2015. The Zips only prior meeting with Notre Dame came in 1910. Ianello was a member of the Fighting Irish staff from 2005-09, serving as assistant head coach in his final season. Former UA head coach Gerry Faust (1986-94), who currently resides in the Akron area and is an active supporter of Zips Athletics, was head coach at Notre Dame from 1981-85.
The Zips complete the home-and-home with Marshall in Huntington, W.Va., in 2016. Additional non-league matchups for the 2014, '15 and '16 season will be announced at a later date.
Akron Football Future Non-Conference Schedules:
Aug. 30 – UCF
Sept. 8 – at FIU
Sept. 15 – Morgan State
Sept. 22 – at Tennessee
Aug. 31 – at UCF
Sept. 7 – James Madison
Sept. 14 – at Michigan
Sept. 21 – Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 6 – at Penn State
Sept. 20 – Marshall
Sept. 27 – at Pittsburgh
Sept. 5 – at Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 12 – Pittsburgh
Sept. 26 – at Notre Dame
Sept. 17 – at Marshall