The last time the Arizona Wildcats hosted an SEC opponent at Arizona Stadium was nearly 17 years ago. The UA now has two SEC teams scheduled within the next 13 years.
The UA football program announced on Thursday that it’ll play a home-and-home football series against the juggernaut Alabama Crimson Tide in 2032 and '33. The 17-time national champions will host Arizona at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 4, 2032. Arizona will host the Crimson Tide in Tucson on Sept. 3, 2033.
The teams have never before played each other.
“Facing a marquee opponent like the Crimson Tide is not only important to our football program, but bringing a high-profile opponent to Arizona Stadium will make a tremendous impact on our community," UA athletic director Dave Heeke said. "We look forward to welcoming the Alabama football program to Tucson, as well as an exciting trip to Tuscaloosa.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban praised Arizona as a quality opponent.
"Arizona is a tremendous football program and the opportunity to play this type of competition only makes our program stronger while providing a lot of excitement for both fan bases," he said.
The two programs have a mutual connection in Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, who served as Arizona’s AD from 2010-17. Byrne was instrumental in facility upgrades and oversaw the $378 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility project in the north end zone at Arizona Stadium. Byrne took over as Alabama's AD in January 2017.
Byrne can be credited for Arizona's next series against an SEC team, too. The Wildcats will play a home-and-home series with Mississippi Stat ein 2022 and 2023. Byrne, who was the AD at Mississippi State before coming to Arizona, scheduled the series in 2014.
Byrne said the Arizona-Alabama series will provide "our teams and our fan bases exciting new opportunities during the regular season."
Arizona's next decade-plus include nonconference games against Texas Tech, San Diego State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, BYU, Kansas State, Mississippi State and Alabama, among others.
The Wildcats have played just seven games against SEC teams, going 1-6. Arizona last hosted an SEC team in 2003, when LSU beat the Wildcats 59-13 at Arizona Stadium.
Here's a look at Arizona's future nonconference opponents:
Home games in ALL CAPS
2020: HAWAII (Aug. 29), PORTLAND STATE (Sept. 5), at Texas Tech (Sept. 19)
2021: BYU* (Sept. 2), SAN DIEGO STATE (Sept. 11), NAU (Sept. 18)
*Neutral-site game in Las Vegas
2022: at San Diego State (Sept. 3), MISSISSIPPI STATE (Sept. 10), NORTH DAKOTA STATE (Sept. 17)
2023: NAU (Sept. 2), at Mississippi State (Sept. 9), UTEP (Sept. 16)
2024: NAU (Aug. 31), at Kansas State (Sept. 14)
2025: at Hawaii (Aug. 30), KANSAS STATE (Sept. 14)
2026: NAU (Sept. 5), @ BYU (Sept. 12)
2027: at Colorado State (Sept. 4), BYU (Sept. 11), NAU (Sept. 18)
2028: COLORADO STATE (Sept. 2), at Nebraska (Sept. 16)
2029: VIRGINIA TECH (Sept. 8)
2030: at Virginia Tech (Aug. 30)
2031: NEBRASKA (Sept. 13)
2032: at Alabama (Sept. 4)
2033: ALABAMA (Sept. 3)
Contact sports content producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @justinesports
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