Cal Poly to play Arizona State in 2015

Cal Poly has scheduled to play Arizona State University in football in the 2015 season, both schools said Wednesday. It will be the first time the Mustangs have played a Pac-10 Conference team in football.

The game, which will take place at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., is scheduled for Sept. 19, 2015, Arizona State sports information director Mark Brand said.

“It’s good for the program,” Cal Poly athletic director Alison Cone said. “Our players really enjoy playing teams like that, (teams) that they’ve spent much of their life following.”

The Mustangs have played one other Bowl Championship Series-level opponent, falling to Wisconsin in 2008, 36-35 in overtime. Cal Poly, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA), has made a concerted effort in recent years to schedule Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A) teams in order to enhance its competitiveness, national recognition and revenue. The Mustangs, who are 3-7 against the FBS since 2003, will take on one FBS foe this upcoming season in Fresno State.

The arrangement with Arizona State will pay Cal Poly approximately $300,000, Cone estimated. Cal Poly presently doesn’t have any other dates with Pac-10 teams, Cone said.

With only two other FCS-level scholarship programs existing in California, Cal Poly annually finds itself struggling to fill out its schedule, having to either make cross-country trips for weeks at a time to play teams of a similar competitive profile or scheduling lower-level opponents closer to home. This upcoming season, for instance, the Mustangs will host Division II Humboldt State in a game that won’t count toward their FCS playoff eligibility, two weeks before beginning a stretch of five straight away games as far as Norfolk, Va.

“We want to play teams as good as we possibly can,” Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said. “Playing a Pac-10 team every year would be good by me.

“I’m not saying we want to play 10 Pac-10 teams,” Walsh added, “but we definitely want to play (Division I) schools in the state, and if that doesn’t happen, then we have to start moving on to schools out of state.”