BOULDER, COLO. – Pardon the residents of the Boulder area if they got a little tired of seeing maroon and gold over the weekend. Starting Thursday, Gophers football fans made their way to this picturesque college town on the base of the Rocky Mountains, gathering for one of the team's most attractive nonconference destinations in recent memory.
Minnesotans flocked to Boulder, took in all the sights and sounds, boosted the local economy and left for home with a 30-0 victory by the Gophers in their back pocket. Playing another Power Five team in the nonconference season doesn't happen every year – the Gophers often have three nonleague home games – but there's a good chance there will be more of it in the future.
The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC have entered into the Alliance, a way to improve scheduling among the three conferences and combat the SEC, which fired the latest big salvo in college football when it yanked away Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12.
Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff attended Saturday's game between the Gophers and Buffaloes and held court with local media members. He addressed some of the plans the Alliance has in the future when it comes to scheduling, and fans should like them.
The Pac-12, Kliavkoff said, will go to an 8-1-1 scheduling plan when the Alliance begins, and it would figure the Big Ten and ACC would follow suit. Teams would play eight conference games – the Big Ten currently plays nine – and then would face one school from each of the other Alliance conferences, one at home and one on the road. That would leave two games for a program to fill with nonconference games on their own. Under this plan, teams could have seven home games in a 12-game schedule.
An example: The Gophers would have an eight-game Big Ten schedule, then maybe play host to UCLA of the Pac-12 and take a road trip to Virginia Tech of the ACC. They could add two home games against teams from the Group of Five conferences or even FCS programs.
There are dozens of matchup options with the three conferences aligning. The possibilities for the Gophers are intriguing: a trip to Tallahassee to play Florida State; Oregon making a visit to Huntington Bank Stadium; Miami (Fla.) visiting Dinkytown for a matchup of The U vs. The U.
Minnesota fans had a glimpse of Alliance-like scheduling with the first trip to Colorado since 1991, and the Buffaloes pay a visit to Minneapolis next Sept. 17. In 2023, the Gophers venture to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina, and the Tar Heels make the return trip to open the 2024 season. A trip to Brigham Young is on the 2025 schedule; last year's home matchup with the Cougars was canceled because of COVID-19.
The Gophers have nonconference games scheduled out to 2029, including a home-and-home set with California of the Pac-12 in 2028 and '29. They also will play host to Mississippi State of the SEC in 2026, and visit Starkville to play the Bulldogs in 2027, marking the first time they'll play a nonconference regular-season game at an SEC school.