Michigan is in the market for an opponent.
Notre Dame has opted out of its games with the Wolverines from 2015-17 because the Fighting Irish need space to accommodate their new deal with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Who should Michigan play? After perusing future schedules, here are six suggestions.
AUBURN — The Tigers' dance card is pretty wide open right now. Their only 2015 nonconference game is Idaho and they have nothing locked in for 2016 and '17. While it seems you'd be more likely to spot a flamingo flying around in Ann Arbor than a Southeastern Conference team not named Vanderbilt playing at the Big House these days, this would be a great opportunity to fix that. One game at the Big House, one game on the Plains and maybe a third at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Georgia and Florida also have room for the Wolverines, but the Gators have shown little or no interest in venturing outside their state for nonconference games in recent years. Georgia has been more adventurous.
BYU — If the Cougars insist on being an independent they are going to run into the same problems that Notre Dame was looking to fix when it decided to join the ACC and lock into five football games with its members. BYU is locked in to play Boise State for the next 12 years, has a trip to Nebraska scheduled for 2015, a game against West Virginia in Maryland in 2016. Plus, the Cougars have four more games still to be scheduled from the six-game deal it signed with Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish could make this easy and bail out BYU, too. Then the Cougars and Wolverines could get together and talk about how much they both dislike Notre Dame.
FLORIDA STATE — Unlike the rival Gators, the Seminoles have a history of taking on tough road trips. In recent years they have played Oklahoma, BYU and Colorado. Florida State is willing to hit the road is to get marquee home games in return that will fill Doak Campbell Stadium. The locals tend to blow off those walkover games in Tallahassee. And Atlantic Coast Conference "rivals" Duke and Boston College aren't exactly big drawing cards, either. The Wolverines, however, might be leery about bringing the 'Noles to the Big House. The last time it happened Florida State won 51-31.
LOUISVILLE (OR CINCINNATI) — The Cardinals have room on the schedule and might even agree to a two-for-one deal, in which they make two trips to the Big House for one visit to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium by the Wolverines. How about this: Michigan and Louisville at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati? If nothing else, it might tick off Ohio State fans, and doesn't that alone make it worth it for Michigan? Striking a similar deal with Cincinnati makes sense, too, but the Bearcats are booked up for 2015.
OREGON — The Ducks probably couldn't do all three games with the Wolverines. In 2015, they already have a game at Michigan State, and it's doubtful they would want to play both schools in the same year. And remember, Pac-12 teams play nine conference games so they have less room with which to work. But 2016 and '17 are wide open. The teams played a home-and-home in 2003 and '07.
OKLAHOMA STATE — Oklahoma and Texas are booked up, but billionaire booster and Oklahoma State alum Boone Pickens is on record as wanting the Cowboys to step-up the nonconference schedule. If Michigan is willing to take a trip to Stillwater, the third game could be in Arlington.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap
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