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EWU slate daunting

If Eastern Washington University’s football team hopes next fall to build on the success of last year’s 9-4 season, it will have to survive a couple of early-season games against teams from the powerful Big 12 Conference.

The school announced Thursday that the Eagles will open the 2008 season with guarantee-money games against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, on Aug. 30, and against Colorado in Boulder, Colo., on Sept. 6.

The last time Eastern opened its season with back-to-back road games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams was in 2006 when the Eagles suffered lopsided losses at Oregon State (56-17) and West Virginia (52-3) and went on to finish 3-8.

First-year coach Beau Baldwin was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Paul Wulff that year. He did not respond to phone messages left Thursday afternoon asking him to discuss next year’s schedule.

In Texas Tech, the Eagles will face a team that finished 9-4 overall last fall and 4-4 in the Big 12. The Red Raiders, who beat Virginia 31-28 in the Gator Bowl, threw for an average of 470.3 yards per game in 2007 and led all FBS schools in passing offense.

Colorado finished 6-7 overall and 4-4 in the Big 12, and closed its season with a 30-24 loss to Alabama in the Independence Bowl. The Buffaloes also feature an outstanding passing game led by quarterback Cody Hawkins, who completed 56 percent of his passes and threw for 2,693 yards and 19 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman last fall.

Eastern will have an open date on Sept. 13 before hosting Western Washington in a Sept. 20 non-conference matchup at Woodward Field. EWU opens Big Sky Conference play at home against Idaho State on Sept. 27 and will have another open date on Oct. 25.

EWU’s 2007 season ended with a 38-35 loss to eventual national champion Appalachian State in the second round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff.

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