WACO, Texas, June 18 (UPI) -- Since their controversial exclusion from January's inaugural College Football Playoff, Baylor University's football program has taken several steps to strengthen its resume. Now it reportedly wants to open the 2016 season Down Under.
Baylor's proposal would be just the third time in history that a college football game is played in Australia. The last time occurred in December 1987, when Colorado State played Brigham Young University in Melbourne. The other contest was held in the same location two years earlier.
Baylor has been one of college football's better programs in recent years. Last season, the team positioned itself to appear in the first ever College Football Playoff -- which involves the nation's top four teams -- but only climbed one spot in the final regular season rankings, from No. 6 to No. 5, despite being declared Big XII Conference co-champions.
Part of the reason for Baylor's missing the playoff, it has been speculated, was a relatively weak non-conference schedule. By kicking off 2016 in Australia, the Bears would add a high profile non-conference game against a "Power 5" conference opponent.
The Rivals report indicated that Baylor's opponent in the Southern Hemisphere could be California, from the Pac 12.
An exact date and venue for the 2016 season opener have not yet been announced, but Sydney and Melbourne are reportedly leading candidates to host the contest.
Taking college football games overseas has been done before, although not frequently. Last season, Penn State and the University of Central Florida played in Dublin, Ireland. Notre Dame played Navy in the same location in 2012.
Last month, the Pac 12 also announced one of its 2015 regular season basketball games would be held in Shanghai, China. The game is part of the conference's Globalization Initiative -- which it calls "an unprecedented effort to promote goodwill and showcase the Conference and its member institutions in China through student-athlete exchanges and sport."
The game will feature the Washington Huskies and Texas Longhorns, and will be televised live by ESPN.
In addition to the Australia game, Baylor has also added two additional formidable "Power 5" conference opponents to future non-conference schedules -- the ACC's Duke in 2017 and 2016, and the Pac 12's Utah in 2023 and 2024.