Last year, the Big Ten Conference announced a football strength of schedule commitment. At that time, the conference stipulated that its members must play at least one non-conference game against an opponent from a Power Five conference or BYU or Notre Dame.
In addition, the Big Ten agreed to discontinue the scheduling of FCS teams with the exception of those that had already been contracted.
A couple of months after the announcement, the Big Ten added a few exceptions. Its members can also fulfill the strength of schedule commitment by scheduling Army, Air Force, Cincinnati, Navy, and UConn.
Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner said at that time that more Group of Five teams could be included and would be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
“If someone comes to us with a request, we’ll evaluate it,” Rudner told the Indianapolis Star.
According to a report by the Star Tribune on Thursday, a second team from the Mountain West Conference, Fresno State, now counts as an exception.
News of Fresno State’s addition to the list arose after Minnesota announced the completion of their 2019 football schedule by adding Georgia Southern to a non-conference slate that already included South Dakota State and Fresno State.
Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys confirmed to the Star Tribune that they were given an exception to count the Bulldogs.
“Otherwise we wouldn’t have done that,” Claeys said. “[The Big Ten] has to approve it.”
Minnesota scheduled Fresno State for a home-and-home series about one month prior to the Big Ten announcing their strength of schedule commitment.
Fresno State is 34-38 over the past six seasons, including 1-6 this season. The Bulldogs’ last winning season was in 2013 when they went 11-2 and won the Mountain West championship.
Here’s an updated look at who each conference can schedule, per reports:
Any team from the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC, plus BYU and Notre Dame.
Big 12 (2017+)
Any team from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC, plus Notre Dame.
Big Ten (2016+)
Any team from the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC, plus Air Force, Army, BYU, Cincinnati, Fresno State, Navy, Notre Dame, and UConn. No FCS opponents.
Any team from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12, plus Army, BYU and Notre Dame.