Eastern Kentucky will kick off its football season Thursday night, playing host to Robert Morris.
Kickoff at Roy Kidd Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
The Colonels, No. 19 in the Football Championship Subdivision Coaches' poll, will open the season at home for the first time since 2005. The last time EKU opened at home on a Thursday was 20 years ago.
The contest not only is the first between the schools, but the first between EKU and any member of the Northeast Conference. The Colonels will play at Robert Morris next year.
EKU ranked second nationally in turnover margin (plus-19) last year while going 8-3 overall, 6-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
The Colonels return 11 starters but have new leaders at quarterback (Jared McClain) and running back (Jared Sanders).
EKU's defense is led by linebackers Anthony Brown (60 tackles, 12.5 for a loss) and Ichiro Vance (56 tackles), and linemen David Carter (five tackles for loss) and Shawn Shupperd (56 tackles).
Robert Morris, located in Moon Township, Pa., finished last season 4-7 overall and 3-5 in the Northeast Conference. The team returns 36 letterwinners and 14 starters. This year the program was picked fourth in the NEC.
The season will mark the 20th and final for head coach Joe Walton, who helped create the Robert Morris program from scratch. Along the way his teams have won five NEC titles and 109 total games.
Another Thursday opener will have Pikeville visiting Morehead State for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game marks the debut of longtime assistant Rob Tenyer as Eagles head coach.