Western Carolina sets 2016 schedule

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(STATS) - To say Western Carolina football is revving up for the 2016 season might be an understatement.

The Catamounts are in talks to play their Southern Conference opener against East Tennessee State at Bristol Motor Speedway, part of an 11-game slate bookended by games against FBS opponents.

The Johnson City Press said the two schools are in negotiations to play their Sept. 17 game at the track. If so, it would add a special backdrop to ETSU's return to the SoCon schedule for the first time since 2003.

Bristol Motor Speedway is located less than 30 miles from ETSU's campus, and Tennessee and Virginia Tech are scheduled to play there on Sept. 10, with the goal of surpassing the college football record for attendance - 115,109 for the Notre Dame at Michigan game in 2013.

Western Carolina finished 7-4 last season, including 5-2 in the SoCon, to reach back-to-back seven-win campaigns for the first time since 1983-84.

Coach Mark Speir's squad will open the 2016 regular season at East Carolina (Sept. 3) and finish it at South Carolina (Nov. 19). In between, the Catamounts will host five opponents: Gardner-Webb (Sept. 10) and then conference foes The Citadel (Oct. 1), Wofford (Oct. 8), Chattanooga (Oct. 29) and VMI (Nov. 5).

Their other road games will be against SoCon members Mercer (Oct. 15), Samford (Oct. 22) and Furman (Nov. 12).

2016 Western Carolina Football Schedule

Sept. 3, at East Carolina

Sept. 10, Gardner-Webb

Sept. 17, at East Tennessee State*

Oct. 1, The Citadel*

Oct. 8, Wofford*

Oct. 15, at Mercer*

Oct. 22, at Samford*

Oct. 29, Chattanooga* (Homecoming)

Nov. 5, VMI*

Nov. 12, at Furman*

Nov. 19, at South Carolina

* - Southern Conference game