January 28, 2016

(STATS) - The end zone will be quite nice, but the winner's circle will feel even better.

East Tennessee State's return to Southern Conference football next season gained added flair Thursday, as the Buccaneers announced they will host Western Carolina on Sept. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway in their first conference game since 2003. The matchup will come in their second season back to football following last year's return as an FCS independent program.

"Not only will this will be a historic event for the schools, but also our fans, the conference and FCS football," ETSU coach Carl Torbush said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players, coaches, staff, university and fans."

The racetrack is less than 20 miles from ETSU's campus in Johnson City. The Bucs' other home games will remain at Science Hill High School in Johnson City while the team awaits an expected move into a new facility in 2017.

ESTU went 2-9 last season, while Western Carolina was 7-4.

Tennessee and Virginia Tech will meet in the "Battle at Bristol" at the speedway Sept. 10, with the goal of surpassing the college football record for attendance - 115,109 for Notre Dame at Michigan in 2013. The speedway's seating capacity is about 160,000.

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