In the earliest opening to the college football season in 11 years, Eastern Washington will host Sam Houston State on Aug. 23 in the "FCS Kickoff."
The Eagles and Bearkats will kick off at 12:30 PDT at Roos Field, ESPN announced Thursday morning.
"We saw the opportunity, saw the need and desire from a programming perspective, and we feel like we can get a significant audience for this game," said Brent Colborne, ESPN's Director of Programming for NCAA championships.
"Come August 23, right before Labor Day, people are starving for college football. People are ready for football. This is a really cool opportunity to serve those fans."
It will be the earliest opening to the college football season since 2003, when San Jose State beat Grambling and Kansas State beat Cal, both on Aug. 23 of that year.
Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington have played in three of the past four FCS championship games, with Eastern Washington winning in 2010 and Sam Houston State the runner-up in 2011 and 2012. Sam Houston State was the only FCS team to beat Eastern Washington in the 2013 regular season.
Their 2014 matchup originally was scheduled for Sept. 13, which now will serve as a bye week for the Eagles.