PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports – After weeks of losing football games, BYU is finally adding one.
The Cougars will open the 2020 season at Navy on September 7th, the school announced on Thursday.
The game will be played on Labor Day, Monday, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. MDT and will be televised by ESPN.
It is unclear if any fans will be allowed in the stadium to watch the game.
“Just excited for the game,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “Just looking forward to it. I think our guys had a huge sigh of relief.”
“We knew it wasn’t a matter of if but when,” running back Lopini Katoa said. “But just to finally have a name to that week one game is exciting.”
“It definitely boosted everyone’s spirits knowing that we get to play,” added linebacker Payton Wilgar. “We get to start preparing for someone and start studying film and whatnot, so it was exciting.”
“We are very excited for the opportunity to play the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis,” said BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe. “It’s always an honor and a privilege to play against a service academy, like we did annually for many years with Air Force. We first played the Midshipmen in the inaugural Holiday Bowl in 1978. The opportunity to visit Navy’s hallowed campus will be an amazing experience for our football team.”
The Labor Day contest is part of a two-game series with Navy. Details for the game at LaVell Edwards Stadium will be announced at a later date.
The Cougars opened training camp on Tuesday not knowing who its season-opening opponent would be.
BYU now has seven games currently on its schedule. Joining Navy is Utah State, Houston, Northern Illinois, Boise State, San Diego State and North Illinois.
BYU lost three games against Utah, Arizona State and Stanford when the Pac-12 announced last month that it would place only conference games. The Cougars also lost a home game against Missouri when the SEC decided to go to a conference-only schedule.
The Cougars also lost two games against Michigan State and Minnesota when the Big Ten announced the same policy.
Navy is coming off an 11-2 season that included a 7-1 resume as the West Division co-champions in the American Athletic Conference. The Midshipmen defeated Kansas State in the 2019 Liberty Bowl to tie the Naval Academy record of 11 wins and finish the season ranked No. 20 in both the final national polls.
“Speaking on behalf of our players and coaches, we are extremely excited for this opportunity to play Navy on Labor Day to open the 2020 season and appreciate all the work put in by Tom Holmoe and Navy to schedule this game,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “Navy plays great football and we have the utmost appreciation and respect for all of the sacrifices the members of the military academies make on all of our behalf. Ken (Nuimatalolo) is a great football coach and a personal friend who I have known since I was young and always admired both as a person and as a coach. We are looking forward to the matchup.”
The Labor Day game will mark the third meeting between BYU and Navy. The two teams met in the inaugural Holiday Bowl in 1978 with Navy coming away with a 23-16 victory. BYU gained revenge in 1989 when the Cougars traveled to Annapolis and won 31-10.
Prior to recent schedule changes made by the FBS conferences in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, BYU was slated to face rival Utah in its opener while Navy was originally scheduled to face Notre Dame in a series that had taken place each season since 1927—the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in college football at 93 games.
BYU will continue to announce additional games for the 2020 season as they are finalized.