The Western Kentucky football team has a new season opener.
The Hilltoppers will now begin the season at Cardinal Stadium against Louisville on Sept. 12.
“Excited to open the 2020 season in the Commonwealth of Kentucky against the Louisville Cardinals!” WKU athletics director Todd Stewart wrote in a quote-tweet of WKU’s announcement. “Thank you to @vincetyra (Louisville athletics director Vince Tyra) and the @GoCards staff for your collaboration and cooperation throughout this process!”
The change was announced two days after WKU announced its original opener, scheduled for Sept. 3, would be delayed to a date to be determined. The Hilltoppers were scheduled to host UT Chattanooga to open the season.
WKU was originally scheduled to face the Cardinals on Sept. 26, but plans for the game were in doubt after the ACC announced July 29 it would change its football scheduling model to play 11 games – including 10 conference and one nonconference contest – with season openers taking place the week of Sept. 7-12. The ACC announced its full season schedules Thursday.
The new ACC guidelines left open the possibility the Louisville-WKU game could still be played, as it stated all nonconference game opponents would be selected by the respective school and must be played in the home state of the ACC institution, and all nonconference opponents must meet the medical protocol requirements as agreed upon by the ACC. Louisville was also originally scheduled to host Murray State on Sept. 19 and Kentucky on Nov. 28, but a potential Governor’s Cup meeting between the Cardinals and Wildcats was eliminated July 30 when the SEC announced it would play a 10-game conference-only schedule, with Sept. 26 the new date for season openers.
The now Sept. 12 game at Louisville is the final in a three-game series, with the second being played at Nissan Stadium in Nashville last fall. WKU was supposed to receive $600,000 from the game against Louisville.
“I know we are all excited to see the official Fall 2020 schedule for Louisville Football today ... especially that incredible home line up here in the ‘Ville,” Tyra wrote in a post on Twitter. “We are also moving closer to an announcement on fan attendance at the games and hope to deliver that no later than August 15th.”
WKU was originally scheduled to play at Indiana Sept. 12, but the Big Ten announced July 9 it would play conference-only schedules if fall sports were to take place. The game would have been the first in a three-game series and WKU was contracted to receive $550,000 from the meeting. In a July 16 Zoom conference, Stewart said Indiana athletics director Scott Dolson called him following the Big Ten’s announcement, and that the two planned to discuss details of the cancellation at a later time.
As of the time of the announcement of the new season opener, WKU is scheduled to host Liberty on Sept. 19 and open the Conference USA portion of the schedule Oct. 3 at Middle Tennessee. The UT Chattanooga game has not been rescheduled.