At long last, Arkansas has replaced the Michigan series on the 2018 and 2019 football schedules. And the Razorbacks’ new opponent is none other than the Colorado State Rams.
Arkansas will travel to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State in 2018, and the previously scheduled 2019 game in Fayetteville will serve as the return trip.
No, it’s not The Big House, but Arkansas was put in a bind when Michigan cancelled the series last year. The series had been scheduled since 2012, but the Wolverines paid $2 million to pull out and restart their series with Notre Dame. At this late date, there weren’t a ton of options, and we’ll likely never know how deep into discussions Jeff Long might have gotten into with other teams.
The good news is that Fort Collins is not a bad trip to take for fans that might be able to go. It’s due north of Denver on I-25, so it will have great access to the mountains and I’ve heard great things from other people who’ve been to Fort Collins before. Also, Colorado State is set to open a new stadium soon, and this game will be played in it.
The Rams have gone 7-6 and 5-3 in the Mountain West Conference in each of the last two seasons, both of which were coached by Mike Bobo.
This does mean Arkansas will not have a non-conference opponent from a Power 5 conference in 2018. However, the SEC granted Arkansas a waiver since the Hogs did have the Michigan series scheduled and the Wolverines are the ones who backed out.
Arkansas does still have a non-conference slot available for the 2019 season and all slots available for 2020, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Long still tried to schedule another home-and-home for those seasons. Arkansas still has Texas scheduled to come to Fayetteville in 2021.
I’d also like to point out, there’s been some snarky confusion over whether or not Bret Bielema referred to a “marquee” non-conference series. A tweet from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Tom Murphy made it appear he did, but that was not a direct quote. Murphy later specified that “marquee” was his word and not Bielema’s, so no, Bret Bielema did not refer to Colorado State as a “marquee” non-conference series.