Saturdays across the nation are sanctioned for college football. Some schools will open their seasons this weekend, such as Ohio Valley Conference rival Jacksonville State, but most teams kick off their seasons next Saturday.
Jacksonville State plays Chattanooga Saturday in Montgomery, Ala.
Eastern does not have to wait quite as long to open its season as it plays Thursday at Indiana State in Terre Haute. The Panthers have opened their season on Thursdays since the 2014 season.
The Panthers have struggled the past three seasons in their openers, dropping back-to-back against Western in 2016 and 2015. The Panthers lost their opener in 2014 to Minnesota.
Eastern has played Indiana State twice in the last 10 years and won both. Eastern won both games on the road and both by blow out.
The Panthers won 54-20 in 2007 and 31-0 in 2009.
Indiana State is not in the OVC, but does play at least one OVC team each season. Last year the Sycamores took on Southeast Missouri and won 27-24. With 10 seconds left in that game, quarterback Isaac Harker found Miles Thompson for a go-ahead touchdown pass.
The Redhawks defeated the Panthers last season on their home turf.
Harker is back this season for Indiana State, but Thompson finished off his career with the Skyhawks.
The Skyhawks will also be without their 2016 running back Roland Genesy.
One notable win for the Skyhawks in 2016 was a win against Illinois State where they won 34-31. They also beat Butler to open the season.
A pair of three-game losing streaks deterred the season for the Skyhawks.
Indiana finished its 2016 season with a 4-7 record, and Eastern finished with a 6-5 record after winning its final game of the season.
Eastern beat Indiana State in most major categories in the 2016 season.
Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]