On Tuesday, East Tennessee State released its 2018 football schedule. Featured is the Buccaneers’ first-ever meeting with Tennessee, six home games and three opponents who appeared in the 2017 Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“This is a tough schedule that will challenge us week in and week out,” said Sanders, the Bucs’ new head coach. “We are excited to play in front of our home crowd six times, including being at home for the season opener. Taking our team to Knoxville for the first-ever game at Tennessee will create a lot of interest around our program and in the community. We play in one of the best conferences in the FCS, so we need to come ready to play each week.”
For the second straight season, ETSU opens at home as the Bucs welcome Mars Hill to Johnson City. The date for the 2018 opener has yet to be determined.
ETSU has won its last two season openers, posting a 20-17 double-overtime win at Kennesaw State in 2016 and knocking off Limestone 31-10 this past season to open William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.
Bucs, Vols meet in Knoxville
ETSU and Tennessee will make history on Saturday, Sept. 8, when the two programs meet on the gridiron for the very first time. The Bucs will earn a game guarantee of $500,000 for playing the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium.
This marks the first of four Football Bowl Subdivision opponents the Bucs will play in the next several years. ETSU is scheduled to face Vanderbilt and Appalachian State in 2019, take on reigning Southeastern Conference champion Georgia in 2020, Vanderbilt in 2021 and Appalachian State in 2024.
After opening its Southern Conference schedule with a pair of home games the last two seasons, ETSU begins league play on the road against VMI on Sept. 15.
The Blue & Gold defeated the Keydets, 24-6, last season, and ETSU leads the all-time series, 14-9.
Three straight at home
Following back-to-back road games at Tennessee and VMI, ETSU has three consecutive home dates. During this homestand, the Bucs will take on Furman (Sept. 22), Chattanooga (Sept. 29) and Gardner-Webb (Oct. 6).
Furman made a trip to the playoffs a year ago and finished the season ranked No. 20 in the coaches’ poll.
The Gardner-Webb contest will serve as homecoming.
Other home games
The Bucs’ remaining home games are with conference rival Western Carolina on Oct. 27 and Samford to cap the regular season on Nov. 17.
Samford was one of three SoCon teams to earn a bid to the 2017 playoffs and finished the season ranked No. 17. This marks the second time in the last three seasons the Bucs and Bulldogs will meet in the regular-season finale.
SoCon road trips
Along with its trip to VMI, ETSU faces a pair of option teams in consecutive weekends — playing at The Citadel on Oct. 13 and at Wofford on Oct. 20.
The Bucs’ road schedule concludes Nov. 3 at Mercer.
Wofford, the reigning conference champion, finished the season ranked No. 7, while The Citadel has made trips to the playoffs in two of the last three seasons.
ETSU and Mercer have met the last three seasons, with the teams splitting their first two meetings as conference foes.
ETSU’s open date comes in week 11 (Nov. 10), sandwiched between the games with Mercer and Samford.
2018 ETSU schedule
13—at The Citadel*
*denotes Southern Conference Con game
Game times will be announced on a later date