New Hampshire Football Report

UNH adds FIU, Pitt and Kansas

DURHAM – They’ve been to California a couple of times in the last few years and this past season they traveled to Colorado to play for the first time in the Rocky Mountain State. The next stops for the University of New Hampshire football team: Florida, Kansas and Pennsylvania.

UNH athletic director Marty Scarano announced Wednesday that the school has completed its lineup of Football Bowl Subdivision opponents for the next three years. The Wildcats will play at Florida International University in Miami next season (Sept. 14), a game that was previously announced as part of next season’s schedule. UNH will face the University of Kansas in Lawrence on Sept. 5, 2020 and will play the University of Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on Sept. 25, 2021.

“I’m really delighted we have three consecutive years contracted with great schools offering us great opportunities,” Scarano said. “It’s the first time we’ve been able to schedule out three consecutive years and that’s tremendous.”

UNH coach Sean McDonnell said he looks forward to the challenge.

“These three games give our program another chance to compete at the highest level in the country and against three more top FBS programs,” McDonnell said. “It also takes us to other parts of the country. That’s an exciting part of it, too.”

The Wildcats have stepped up a level in play – UNH plays in the Football Championship Subdivision – for a single game in 16 of the last 17 seasons, playing at an FBS school and receiving a financial guarantee to do so. FBS teams are allowed to have more players on scholarship than FCS schools.

Similar games are played by FCS teams around the country and they not only provide a boost to the budget for the programs, but provide an opportunity for the schools to test themselves against high-level competition.

“There’s a financial component to this that’s very important, but to me it’s more about making a statement about our program,” Scarano said. “Some of these games have been really important in regards to recruiting. We certainly consider Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania very important recruiting ground for us and it’s great to go back to Pittsburgh and play that game.”

UNH has never played Florida International or Kansas.

As part of the deal to play at Florida International, the UNH men’s basketball team will play a game at FIU in the 2019-2020 season.

The Wildcats played at Pittsburgh and lost, 38-16, on Sept. 11, 2010 in front of 50,120 at Heinz Field. It’s the largest crowd to attend a UNH game. That loss ended an impressive UNH winning streak in FBS games.

The Wildcats won five straight games against FBS rivals starting with a 35-24 triumph at Rutgers in 2004. They followed that with victories at Northwestern in 2006, Marshall in 2007, Army in 2008 and Ball State in 2009.

UNH picked up another FBS win in the 2017 season over Georgia Southern, 22-12.

“Playing at Colorado was an unbelievable experience,” said Matt Mascia, a sophomore and starter on the offensive line on the 2018 team. “It was awesome, going out and playing a Pac-12 team in the beginning of the year. We did some good things. We ran the ball a little bit against them. . . . You play that team and then follow them as they’re in the Top 25 in the rankings for a while and that’s very cool.”

The games appeal to future Wildcats, too.

“It’s definitely a recruiting thing,” Mascia said. “You see guys who believe they should have been at the FBS level. This is kind of their shot once they come here to really show off and show what they have when they go there. My first FBS game was Georgia Southern. That was a good one to start off with.”

Proceeds from the FBS games generally go into UNH’s general athletics fund, Scarano noted, but signing contracts for the three games in succession will allow the school to put a portion of the funds directly into the football program.

“The Kansas and the Pittsburgh contracts we have mark the highest gross number we’ve had to date for two consecutive years and I told coach Mac (McDonnell) that we’re going to take some of those proceeds and roll those back into the football program, probably for needed capital projects,” Scarano said.

And as much as it’s great to visit Boulder, Colo. and San Jose, to play in historic and high-profile venues such as Michie Stadium at Army, or in NFL stadiums in San Diego and Pittsburgh, Scarano said he’s always interested in playing FBS games closer to home as well.

“I know many of our alums are interested in games with teams from our neighboring and nearby states,” Scarano said. “Suffice to say there isn’t a year that goes by that I don’t ask some of our neighboring institutions whether they’d be interested in playing UNH.”

So far, he’s had no takers.

Trips to Florida, Kansas and Pennsylvania will have to do for now.


  • UNH opens the 2019 season with a game at Holy Cross on Sept. 7.
  • The Wildcats play at Florida International the next weekend.
  • They play their home opener against Rhode Island on Saturday, Sept. 21.
  • UNH plays five home games in Wildcat Stadium next season.
  • The other home games are against Duquesne on Saturday, Sept. 28, against Elon on Saturday, Oct. 5, against Villanova on Saturday, Nov. 2 and against Maine on Saturday, Nov. 23.
  • The Maine game, the battle for the Brice-Cowell Musket, returns to the end of the season after being played as the season opener the last two seasons.
  • Next season, UNH plays five of the six Colonial Athletic Association teams that qualified for the FCS tournament this year.
  • In 2018, the Wildcats played six teams that qualified for the tournament, five from the CAA and Colgate.

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