The University of Kentucky will open its football season on time but two days earlier than originally planned.
The Wildcats were scheduled to open the season against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 5 but the contest has been moved to Sept. 3 at Kroger Field to accommodate a crowded weekend that includes the 146th edition of the Kentucky Derby slated to run on Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Kickoff will be announced at a later date.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced Kentucky Derby officials to move the yearly race from the first Saturday in May to September. It marks the first time since 1945 and the second time in history the Derby has been moved outside of the month of May.
For just the eighth time in school history, Kentucky will play a contest on Thursday and the first since Oct 15, 2015 when the Wildcats played host to Auburn.
Kentucky is 2-0 in games played against the Eagles and defeated Eastern Michigan in 2017 and 2019.
Although spring practice was mostly wiped out because of the coronavirus, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops feels good about his team.
“It’s always a work in progress and we’re constantly trying to evolve and do better things, do the best we can,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt it’s just like the recruiting process. These guys got to go back. The guys we are recruiting are juniors in high school right now, and sophomores, and freshmen. They don’t know anything about Kentucky other than going to the bowl games and winning the last two and playing exciting football, so that helps us.”