The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will play at Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Western Kentucky on Oct. 24, both schools announced Monday.
The game, which comes with a $350,000 payday for UTC, was originally scheduled for Sept. 3 but recently pushed to a date later in the season as football schedules across the country were altered — and in some cases canceled — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Southern Conference recently announced a postponement of all fall sports with hopes of playing in the spring but gave its member schools leeway to pursue other games. The Mocs had nonconference matchups with Western Kentucky, James Madison on the road and North Alabama at home, but the latter two games will not be played this year, making the trip to take on the Hilltoppers the only game on the slate for UTC, a Football Championship Subdivision program.
"We will have a fall camp leading up to the game and treat it like spring practice," UTC coach Rusty Wright said in a school release. "Instead of having a scrimmage at the end like we do in the spring, our guys will have a chance to compete against a quality FBS opponent."
The Hilltoppers, coached by former Tennessee offensive coordinator Tyson Helton, were 9-4 in 2019. There is some familiarity between the two programs, as Western Kentucky defensive line coach Kenny Baker coached during the 2019 season for the Mocs and co-offensive coordinator Ryan Aplin was the wide receivers coach in 2017, when Tom Arth was in his first of two seasons as head coach.
In addition, Mocs junior Gino Appleberry played his first two college seasons with the Hilltoppers.
"The NCAA has shown a safe passage for return to play with strict guidelines we will be following," UTC athletic director Mark Wharton said in the release. "In addition to the football team playing in the fall, our other fall sports are allowed to pursue limited competition as scheduling opportunities arise."