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UK season opener against Eastern Michigan moved to a Thursday to avoid conflict with Kentucky Derby

University of Kentucky football will return a bit earlier than expected this fall, breaking out of the starting gate first on a holiday weekend that also includes the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby.

UK’s season opener against Eastern Michigan, originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5, has now been moved to Thursday, Sept. 3, at Kroger Field, athletics director Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network and a kickoff time will be announced at a later date.

UK’s season opener against Eastern Michigan, originally scheduled for Sept. 5, has been moved to Sept. 3. (UK photo)

The move became necessary after COVID-19 upended the nation’s sporting schedule and caused the Kentucky Derby to be rescheduled from the first Saturday in May to Saturday, Sept. 5. It marks the first time since 1945 that the Kentucky Derby has been held outside the month of May and just the second time since 1875.

Kentucky will play its eighth Thursday night game in modern times and the first since meeting Auburn at Kroger Field on Oct. 15, 2015. UK also met Mississippi State on a Thursday night in Starkville on Oct. 24, 2013, and Nov. 4, 1999.

UK also traveled to Auburn for a Thursday night game in 1994. In addition, the Wildcats met South Carolina on Thursday nights in 1993, 2003 and 2007. UK opened the 2011 season by defeating Western Kentucky on a Thursday night in Nashville.

This will be the third all-time meeting with Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference. UK is 2-0 all-time against Eagles, winning at Kroger Field in 2017 and 2019.

UK posted an 8-5 record last year. The Wildcats defeated Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl, 37-30, to conclude the season.

Eastern Michigan finished with a 6-7 overall record in 2019. The Eagles dropped a 34-30 decision to Pittsburgh in the Quick Lane Bowl.

From University of Kentucky

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