RICHMOND, Ky. – A home game against a 2016 conference champion and playoff team, and two games against bowl participants make up the Eastern Kentucky football non-conference schedule for the 2017 season.

The Colonels will begin their 2017 season on Sept. 2 at long-time in-state rival Western Kentucky University. Week two of the season will feature a rematch of the 2015 overtime classic against the University of Kentucky on Sept. 9. After a bye week, EKU will play eight straight conference games before concluding the season with a game that could have significant playoff implications at home against Saint Francis University on Nov. 18.

All game times will be announced at a later date.

Eastern and Western have met 84 times on the football field. The two teams met every season from 1946 to 2000 and for six straight years from 2003 to 2008, but have not played each other since. WKU was a member of the Ohio Valley Conference from 1948 to 1981 and again from 1999 to 2000.

The Hilltoppers went 11-3 in 2016, won the Conference USA Championship game and beat Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Eastern Kentucky has fielded football teams since 1909, but has faced its neighbor to the north, Kentucky, just four times. The two teams met for the first time in 1998 and have tangled on three more occasions since.

EKU and Kentucky hooked up for an overtime classic in 2015. The Colonels took a 14-point lead in Lexington when Devin Borders caught a 15-yard touchdown pass with 7:39 left in the game, however the Wildcats battled back to force overtime and then won 34-27. Eastern Kentucky out-gained UK 180-55 on the ground.

The Wildcats finished 7-6 in 2016, including a victory over No. 11 Louisville, and earned a spot in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

EKU and Saint Francis, located in Loretto, Pennsylvania, will be meeting for the first time ever. The game, which will be played on the final weekend of the regular season, could have significant playoff implications. The Red Flash were 7-5 in 2016, earned a share of the Northeast Conference Championship and the league’s automatic bid to the playoffs with a 5-1 mark. The Colonels will be trying to make their 22nd playoff appearance in 2017, second-most all-time by any school.

SFU, which finished the season ranked 27th in the nation, will return sophomore All-America wide receiver Kamron Lewis and its top two running backs in 2017. Lewis caught 75 passes for 1,478 yards and 11 touchdowns this past season. He ranked third in the nation in receiving yards, third in receiving yards per game, ninth in yards per reception and 12th in receiving touchdowns. Junior Marcus Bagley and sophomore Jymere Jordan-Toney combined for 1,266 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Bagley earned the bulk of the yards (891) while Jordan-Toney picked up the majority of the scoring opportunities (5). Saint Francis will be looking for a new quarterback in 2017 after the graduation of Zack Drayer, who threw for 2,594 yards and attempted all but two of the team’s passes in 2016.

The Eastern Kentucky University football program has won two national championships, 21 conference titles and has made 21 playoff appearances. No other current OVC team has won more than 10 league championships.

9/2/2017at Western Kentucky UniversityTBA
9/9/2017at University of KentuckyTBA
9/23/2017Tennessee Tech University*OVCDNTBA
9/30/2017at Southeast Missouri State University*OVCDNTBA
10/7/2017Tennessee State University*OVCDNTBA
10/14/2017at Jacksonville State University*OVCDNTBA
10/21/2017University of Tennessee at Martin* (HC)OVCDNTBA
10/28/2017at Murray State University*OVCDNTBA
11/4/2017at Eastern Illinois University*OVCDNTBA
11/11/2017Austin Peay State University*OVCDNTBA
11/18/2017Saint Francis UniversityOVCDNTBA
Home games in bold
* OVC Games