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Eastern Michigan football is getting a head start on the season.

To avoid a conflict with the nearby Kentucky Derby, which was moved to Saturday, Sept. 5 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eastern's road game at Kentucky has been rescheduled to be played two days earlier on Thursday, Sept. 3.

The kickoff time hasn't yet been announced, nor has TV.

The last time Eastern opened the season on a Thursday night was in 2012, when it lost to Ball State.

This will be the third meeting between Eastern and Kentucky, with Kentucky winning both matchups in 2017 and 2019.

Eastern athletes, specifically football players, began returning to campus this week for the first time since March, as the school begins the process of reopening, albeit under strict COVID-19 protocols.

The 146th Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs in Louisville about 80 miles from Kentucky's campus in Lexington, will be held outside of the month of May for the first time since 1945, and the second time since 1875. The Kentucky Derby, which typically kicks off the Triple Crown series, now will go second, after this weekend's Belmont Stakes, and before the Preakness, which has been rescheduled for October.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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