BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — A renewed rivalry, and three games at home within the first four weeks highlight the 2017 schedule for two-time defending Conference USA Champion WKU Football.
The Hilltoppers open the Mike Sanford Era at home on Sept. 2 when WKU hosts the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky for the first time since 2008. The Hilltoppers lead the all-time series 48-34-3 and have not lost at home to EKU since 1998. Sanford will aim to become the third consecutive head coach to win his career opener.
WKU then travels to Illinois on Sept. 9 before beginning C-USA play in a rematch of the 2016 championship game by hosting Louisiana Tech. It will mark the second time in three years that WKU opens their conference slate at home against the Bulldogs.
Following the start of league play, WKU steps back out of conference when the team hosts Ball State on Sept. 23; the Cardinals are another opponent the Hilltoppers have not faced since the 2008 season.
WKU gets an earlier bye week than usual in 2017, taking the week of Sept. 30 off ahead of the season’s longest road trip: 1,200 miles from Bowling Green for WKU’s first-ever game at UTEP. The Hilltoppers and Miners have squared off just once, in WKU’s inaugural C-USA season of 2014.
Charlotte jumps into the schedule as well for a first-time meeting between the two programs, on Oct. 14 at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, before WKU heads to Norfolk, Va., to take on Old Dominion on Oct. 21.
The Hilltoppers host Florida Atlantic on Oct. 28 before heading to Nashville for a Nov. 4 date with Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt.
Each of WKU’s first three seasons in C-USA ended with a matchup with the Thundering Herd of Marshall, but that will not be the case in 2017 as WKU travels to Huntington, W.Va., for the second consecutive season on Nov. 11. Rival Middle Tennessee comes to Houchens-Smith Stadium for Senior Day on Nov. 18, before WKU closes the regular season on Nov. 25 at FIU.
Sept. 2 – EASTERN KENTUCKY
Sept. 9 – at Illinois
Sept. 16 – LOUISIANA TECH*
Sept. 23 – BALL STATE
Sept. 30 – Bye
Oct. 7 – at UTEP*
Oct. 14 – CHARLOTTE*
Oct. 21 – at Old Dominion*
Oct. 28 – FLORIDA ATLANTIC*
Nov. 4 – at Vanderbilt
Nov. 11 – at Marshall*
Nov. 18 – MIDDLE TENNESSEE*
Nov. 25 – at FIU*
Home games in ALL CAPS
* – indicates Conference USA game
WKU has a two-game home stand against LA Tech and Ball State and a two-game road swing at Vanderbilt and Marshall. It is important to note that all games are subject to date changes and some dates are expected to move in order accommodate national television. Kickoff times will be announced following the announcement of television selections.
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