Mercer schedule highlights: Auburn, Alabama

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(STATS) - After dipping into the FBS pool for the first time last season, Mercer's FCS football program is diving into the deep end in 2017.

The Bears will play at both Auburn and Alabama as part of its 11-game schedule which was announced Wednesday.

While the two SEC opponents were announced previously, there's still a shock effect to it considering the Bears just revived their program in 2013.

They are coming off a 6-5 season, including a 35-10 loss at Georgia Tech.

While the Auburn (Sept. 16) and Alabama (Nov. 18) games are headliners, coach Bobby Lamb's program hopes to build on a 4-4 record in the Southern Conference and qualify for the FCS playoffs. The Bears will host five opponents at Five Star Stadium - Jacksonville (Aug. 31) in the season opener, then conference foes Wofford (Sept. 9), VMI (Sept. 30), Chattanooga (Oct. 14) and Samford (Nov. 4).

2017 Mercer Schedule

Aug. 31, Jacksonville

Sept. 9, Wofford*

Sept. 16, at Auburn

Sept. 23, at East Tennessee State*

Sept. 30, VMI*

Oct. 7, at The Citadel*

Oct. 14, Chattanooga*

Oct. 21, at Furman*

Nov. 4, Samford*

Nov. 11, at Western Carolina*

Nov. 18, at Alabama

* - Southern Conference game