Fans of the EMU football program will get to remove two days off their countdown calendars, thanks to an agreement between the university and Kentucky to move the date of their Week 1 matchup.
The game, previously scheduled for Saturday, September 5th, will now be played on Thursday, September 3rd, in order to avoid running into festivities for the Kentucky Derby. The announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon via press release.
The Derby was originally scheduled for the first weekend in May, but was moved to Sept. 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the first time the Derby has been moved since 1945, and only the second time the race has not been in May since 1875.
The event is known for bringing over 150,000 people to the greater Louisville area from all over the country, and would almost certainly cut into the visitibility of the state’s flagship school’s kickoff. Churchill Downs, the opening leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing, is about 90 minutes outside of Lexington, and likely would have clogged traffic lanes throughout the state if both events went on as scheduled.
The two programs met last season in Lexington, in a game originally scheduled to be in Ypsilanti prior to a change in contract. The homestanding Wildcats won the 2019 contest by a final score of 38-17. The 2020 season opener will be the second game in (what was formerly) a home-and-home series.
With the schedule adjustment, EMU will now start a season-opening game on Thursday night for the first time since 2012, when they opened conference play against Ball State. Their other out-of-conference games on the 2020 slate includes one home game against Coastal Carolina (Sept. 12,) and two road trips to Missouri (Sept. 26) and Army West Point (Oct. 17)