Playing the Pac-12 Conference is becoming commonplace for the Eastern Washington University football program, but the Eagles will face an unfamiliar opponent from that powerhouse league in 2015.
Marking the fifth-straight year the Eagles will play a member of the Pac-12, Eastern has reached an agreement to face Oregon in Eugene, Ore., on Sept. 5, 2015 at Autzen Stadium. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
“We obviously know about Oregon’s incredible success and what they have done, not just in the Pac-12 Conference but on a national stage,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said. “It will be a tremendous challenge to go to Eugene and play in that environment. But like everybody saw last year when we played at Washington, it will be a very exciting game for our program and players to be involved with. We look forward to that opportunity.”
Interestingly, both schools played for a national championship in January 2011. Eastern won the NCAA Division I title with a 20-19 victory over Delaware in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 7. Three days later, Oregon lost to Auburn 22-19 in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) championship game. Eastern finished the season 13-2 and Oregon was 12-1.
A year later, in 2011, Eastern won six of its last seven games to end the season with a 6-5 record. The Ducks, meanwhile, were 10-2 before defeating UCLA 49-31 in the Pac-12 title game and Wisconsin 45-38 in the Rose Bowl.
Starting with a narrow 30-27 loss to open the 2011 season at Washington, the Oregon game will mark the fifth-straight year the Eagles will play an opponent from the Pac-12 Conference. Eastern will play at Washington State in 2012 and Oregon State in 2013, and has scheduled a second football game against Washington in 2014.
“Our football program has really been able to shine a light on our University as a whole, and playing Oregon will continue that pattern,” said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves. “The game will be a tremendous opportunity for both our team and fans.”
Entering its 2012 game at Washington State, Eastern has played current Pac-12 members on seven previous occasions. Besides games in 1907 and 1908 against Washington State, Eastern’s only other games versus Pac-12 opponents have been against Oregon State (2000 and 2006), Arizona State (2002), California (2009) and Washington (2011). Eastern has also played recent Pac-12 newcomer Colorado (2008).
Eastern opened the 2011 season at Husky Stadium on Sept. 3, 2011, and will return to the school’s renovated stadium on Sept. 6, 2014. The Oregon State game is scheduled for Aug. 31, 2013.
Eastern was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for most of its history before becoming a member of FCS in 1984. But despite playing 27 games against NCAA Football Bowl Division members from 1983-2010 -- including four against the Pac-12 Conference -- the Eagles did not play Washington State or Washington during that time span. Eastern had never played Washington until a narrow, 30-27 loss to open the 2011 season. Eastern is now 7-20 all-time versus FBS teams.
The short 90-mile trek to Pullman, Wash., to face WSU will be the first varsity meeting between the two schools in more than 100 years. Eastern lost to the Cougars in 1907 (46-0) and 1908 (73-0), and were 8-10-1 from 1921-46 against WSU’s junior varsity or freshman teams.