UT, UConn set grid series

Tennessee's penchant for scheduling a national array of football programs continued Thursday with the announcement of a two-game series against Connecticut starting in 2015.

The Vols and Huskies, who never have met on the gridiron, play Sept. 26, 2015, at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The return contest is Sept. 3, 2016, at Neyland Stadium.

"We look forward to the addition of the University of Connecticut to our future football schedule," said Mike Hamilton, UT men's athletics director. "This adds another quality opponent from a BCS conference, gives our fans a great travel destination and also puts us back in the northeast -- continuing our tradition of playing in different regions of the country."

The games against Connecticut complement an already solid non-conference lineup for the Vols in 2015 and 2016. UT welcomes Oklahoma to Knoxville on Sept. 12, 2015, finishing a two-game series, and visits Connecticut two weeks later on Sept. 26. Then after hosting the Huskies to open the 2016 slate, the Vols play at Nebraska one week later on Sept. 10.

"The UConn-Tennessee football series will provide two outstanding games for both programs and their respective fans," said Connecticut athletics director Jeffrey Hathaway. "We are happy to bring this intersectional matchup to our dedicated football fans. The trip to Knoxville the following year will give our UConn supporters another fun opportunity to travel with the Huskies on the road."

Both the Vols and Huskies tied for their respective conference's best records last season. Connecticut finished 9-4 overall and 5-2 in conference play, tying West Virginia for Big East Conference honors and advancing to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. UT was 6-2 in the SEC and 10-4 overall after an Outback Bowl victory over Wisconsin.

Thursday's announcement continues Tennessee's reputation for national football scheduling and returns Big Orange football to the New England states for the first time since UT visited Boston College in 1987.

Earlier this year, Tennessee and Ohio State agreed to a two-year series starting 10 years from now. UT is hosting the opener Sept. 1, 2018, at Neyland Stadium, with the return match set for Sept. 7, 2019, at Ohio Stadium.

A two-game set against UCLA -- the Vols lost Monday in Pasadena, Calif., and host the rematch next season in Knoxville -- completes the current decade. Then the Vols host Oregon in 2010, travel to North Carolina in 2011, host the Tar Heels in 2012, travel to Oregon in 2013, visit Oklahoma in 2014, host the Sooners and travel to Connecticut in 2015, host the Huskies and travel to Nebraska in 2016, host the Cornhuskers in 2017 and play at home against Ohio State in 2018 before traveling to Columbus in 2019.

Tennessee will have played regular season games against teams from all six Bowl Championship Series leagues by the close of the next decade.

The Vols' most recent football competition against the Big East was a 10-6 win at Miami (Fla.) in 2003, played before the Hurricanes moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference. UT's 35-14 home triumph over Rutgers was the most recent appearance against the current Big East lineup.

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