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Eastern Washington faces another tough start in 2012

Cheney, WA (Sports Network) - Eastern Washington football refuses to ease into a season.

After starting the 2011 season with four straight losses in September, the Eagles will face another difficult schedule in the first month of the 2012 season.

EWU, the 2010 FCS champion, will open its schedule, announced Wednesday, with two straight games at FBS opponents, former Big Sky Conference rival Idaho on Sept. 1 and Washington State on Sept 8.

Following a bye in the schedule, the Eagles will go on the road for their Big Sky opener at Weber State on Sept. 22. They then will finish the month on Sept. 29 by hosting rival Montana, the 2011 Big Sky co-champion and a FCS semifinalist this season.

The Eagles will play four other home games at Roos Field against North Dakota (Oct. 6), Sacramento State on Homecoming (Oct. 20), Cal Poly (Nov. 3) and UC Davis (Nov. 10). Although Cal Poly is joining the Big Sky in 2012, the Eagles' game against the Mustangs is not one of their eight conference games.

EWU's other conference road games are against 2011 Big Sky co-champion Montana State (Oct. 13), Southern Utah (Oct. 27) and Portland State (Nov. 17)

This past season, EWU opened the season with road losses to Washington and South Dakota, then began Big Sky play with a loss at Montana and a home setback to Montana State. The Eagles won six of their final seven games to finish 6-5.

"The teams are tough and that will be a challenge," said head coach Beau Baldwin, who expects to return eight starters on both offense and defense. "Yes, it's tough - there is no question about that. But in terms of the trips themselves, they are not as difficult as they could be.

"Two out of our first three road games are pretty short bus rides," he continued. "Then we have a bye before our first league game, which is a fairly easy flight."

In the new 13-team Big Sky, EWU won't play Idaho State, Northern Colorado or Northern Arizona, which all had losing seasons in 2011.

2012 Eastern Washington Football Schedule

Saturday, Sept. 1 - at Idaho - Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, Sept. 8 - at Washington State - Pullman, Wash.

Saturday, Sept. 22 - at *Weber State - Ogden, Utah

Saturday, Sept. 29 - *Montana - Cheney, Wash.

Saturday, Oct. 6 - *North Dakota - Cheney, Wash.

Saturday, Oct. 13 - at *Montana State - Bozeman, Mont.

Saturday, Oct. 20 - *Sacramento State (Homecoming) - Cheney, Wash.

Saturday, Oct. 27 - at *Southern Utah - Cedar City, Utah

Saturday, Nov. 3 - Cal Poly - Cheney, Wash.

Saturday, Nov. 10 - *Cal Davis - Cheney, Wash.

Saturday, Nov. 17 - at *Portland State - Portland, Ore.

* - Big Sky Conference game

01/18 14:12:12 ET