CHENEY -- Will Eastern Washington University football fans get a bigger kick out of this year’s schedule?
That depends: Is your gas tank half-full or half-empty?
The Eagles play just one marquee opponent -- Montana on Sept. 29 -- at Roos Field, but open the season with back-to-back trips to the Palouse to face Idaho (on Sept. 1) and Washington State (Sept. 8), according to a schedule announced Wednesday.
For fans, that means seven chances to tailgate within easy driving distance of Spokane -- compared with just four last year -- but you’ll have to travel a bit farther.
For the players, it’s two chances to match up against FBS opponents, and regional rivals to boot.
For head coach Beau Baldwin, it’s a well-placed bye after those two games and preceding the Eagles’ conference opener at Weber State on Sept. 22.
“Two out of first three road games are pretty short bus rides,” Baldwin said. “Then we have a bye before our first league game, which is a fairly easy flight.”
Other home games include conference newcomer North Dakota on Oct. 6; Sacramento State for homecoming on Oct. 20; Cal Poly on Nov. 3; and another newcomer, UC Davis, is Nov. 10.
The Eagles will still play eight conference games each year, with six opponents on a rotating basis and two of them (Montana and Portland State) annually.
The meeting with Washington State is the first since 1908. The Eagles won their last meeting with Idaho, by a score of 8-5 in the Kibbie dome in 2003.
The Eagles return 16 starters from last year’s team, which finished 5-3 in the Big Sky.