Arizona has completed its 2012 football schedule by adding a home game against South Carolina State.
The game against the Bulldogs, from the Football Championship Subdivision, will give the Wildcats eight home games for the first time since the 1988 season.
The game is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 15, 2012.
“It was just an opportunity to play an FCS opponent here in Tucson that had the same open date on their schedule that we had, and we were able to come to an agreement,” said Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne.
“It was just timing. We talked to a lot of different teams about playing, and this was the one that fit the best.”
South Carolina State has advanced to the FCS playoffs in each of the past three seasons and is ranked No. 17 in the preseason by Lindy’s. The game against Arizona will be the furthest the Bulldogs have ever traveled for a football game.
South Carolina State joins Toledo and Oklahoma State as Arizona’s non-conference opponents in 2012. Each of those games will be at home, and that, combined with a Pac-12 schedule that will include five games in Tucson, will give the Wildcats eight games at Arizona Stadium.
The 2012 non-conference schedule gives Arizona a nice mix — a game with potential national interest (Oklahoma State), a game against a good non-BCS program (Toledo) and a lower-division opponent.
“We think it’s a good balance that will be able to attract our fan base and, at the same time, give us a chance to get ready for the Pac-12 schedule,” Byrne said.
The 2012 Pac-10 schedule is a mirror of the 2011 slate — same teams, flipped locations. Arizona will play host to USC, Oregon State, Washington, Colorado and ASU in 2012.
It’s not unusual for Arizona to play a lower-division opponent, something the Wildcats have done every year but one since 2004.
Arizona played Northern Arizona in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009. The Cats took on Stephen F. Austin in 2006 and The Citadel in 2010.
This season’s schedule opens with NAU.
The 2013 schedule will include the beginning of a three-game series against Texas-San Antonio, a new program, led by former Miami head coach Larry Coker. UTSA moves into the WAC in 2012.
Arizona also has scheduled two-game series against UNLV and Nevada for future seasons.
Byrne said there have been no schedule additions beyond that.
“We’re in discussions with a lot of different schools, but nothing that we’re ready to announce,” he said.
Byrne said last summer soon after taking the job at Arizona that he wanted to “challenge our thought process on that a little bit” when asked about scheduling a major BCS opponent every season. He said “some” of his current scheduling discussions are with BCS-level programs.
In the seven years of the Mike Stoops era, the Wildcats have played five non-conference games against BCS opponents — and four were ranked. The Wildcats are 1-3 against ranked non-league foes under Stoops, defeating ninth-ranked Iowa last season.