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UTC football players take the field before a home game against Furman last October. The Mocs will begin their second spring under coach Tom Arth this morning.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program will play Big Ten member Illinois during the 2022 season.

The game against the Illini will be the first game between the two schools and the second for the Mocs against a current Big Ten opponent in school history. UTC dropped a 40-7 decision against Nebraska on Sept. 3, 2011.

The Mocs have scheduled a home game against a "playoff-caliber opponent" to be played in the 2019 season, a 12-game schedule at the FCS level. Sources have told the Times Free Press that the opponent can't be announced because contracts have yet to be signed, but that the Mocs would return the game in 2022.

UTC already has a tough non-conference schedule that season that includes an away game at Jacksonville State on Aug. 31 and a home game against 2016 national champion and 2017 national runner-up James Madison on Sept. 21, a week after traveling to Knoxville to play the University of Tennessee.

In addition, a four-game series with newly Football Championship Subdivision member North Alabama has been set to start in 2020, with the first game in Chattanooga. The Lions have been a successful NCAA Division II program in the past, finishing as national runners-up in 2016.

UNA's offensive coordinator, Ryan Aplin, was the wide receivers coach for the Mocs last season.

The first game fills that season's non-conference schedule for UTC, as they have an away game at Football Bowl Subdivision member Western Kentucky on Sept. 5, 2020 before traveling to James Madison a week later.

The Mocs also have Kentucky on their 2021 schedule along with the Lions.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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