Eastern Kentucky's football season opener is more than David vs. Goliath.
Sure, it is the FCS Colonels on the road against BCS opponent Purdue.
Saturday's game at West Lafayette, Ind., also comes against a team that is led by EKU graduate and former Colonels coach Danny Hope.
"I'm very proud to have been head coach there. I take a lot of pride in being an alum of Eastern Kentucky," Hope said Tuesday during a Big Ten teleconference. "And I'm really excited about their growth and development as a team and a program. They're a very talented football team. It's about Purdue versus EKU. Coach Hope and being a graduate of EKU or a former coach at EKU is not really part of the equation."
Never miss a local story.
Dean Hood, entering his fifth season at EKU, had high praise for his predecessor during the Ohio Valley Conference teleconference.
"I owe Coach Hope a great deal because when I got here, everything was in good order. ... Most times you get fortunate enough to get a head coaching job, it's a rebuilding thing," Hood said. "You're going there and it's a total change in culture and mind-set and the whole deal.
"I got here, these kids were winners. They knew how to win. They were organized. They were disciplined. And we walked right in here and won the conference first year. And that's because of the way the ship was left."
EKU went 7-5 overall and tied for the OVC title with a 6-2 record last season. The Colonels won six of their last seven regular-season games.
Nine starters return on offense, seven on defense and two on special teams.
The Colonels are pre-season favorites to win the OVC, ranked No. 18 (Sports Network) and 21 (Coaches poll) in the FCS.
One starter, defensive back Cejay Ceniza, might not play because of a pulled groin.
Stanley Abasnon, who originally signed with Arizona State, and redshirt freshman Deno Montgomery will fill in if Ceniza is out.
"I feel like our kids are focused, locked in, in good shape and ready to go hit somebody that isn't wearing maroon or white," Hood said.
EKU nearly pulled off a stunner in last year's opener, leading 7-3 with less than two minutes left before falling 10-7 at Kansas State.
There will be no sneaking up on Purdue.
"Coach Hope, with him being at both levels — he was at BCS level, came down to be a head coach (at EKU) and now he's back up there as a head coach — he fully understands the game and the mind-set he's got to have his guys in," Hood said. "And I think Kansas State probably did more for Purdue than it did for us from the standpoint of that's a film they can show their guys, that 'you guys have got to make sure you focus.' We'll not have the 'sneak up on you' plan like we had down there last year.
"I told our guys that 'because we've been close a couple times, that doesn't mean that now this year's the year.' Now, this year's the year if we go down and play a near-perfect game and they stub their toe, we get a couple calls and we get a ball bouncing this way or that way. ... There's a reason why everybody knows Appalachian State-Michigan and James Madison-Virginia Tech ... and the reason is they don't happen very often. So we've got to play dang-near perfect."
Hope played for the Colonels from 1977 through 1980. He went 35-22 in five seasons as coach, bowing out with an OVC title in 2007.
"Any time that you compete against your own or where you're from, you always want to make a good impression," Hope said. "It's really important to me that the people at (EKU), that they're proud of the job that Coach Hope is doing here at Purdue."