BYU to open 2020 football season against Navy

BYU Football has a new 2020 season opener.

The Cougars will travel to Annapolis, Maryland, to take on the Naval Academy on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7, the school announced Thursday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. MDT and will be nationally televised on ESPN.

“We are very excited for the opportunity to play the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis,” BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said. “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 Cougars’ original season opener was scheduled to be on Sept. 3 with rival Utah. However, when the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences announced they would be holding conference-only seasons, BYU lost six games from its original schedule, including its matchup against the Utes.

Thursday’s announcement marks the first replacement game the Cougars have successfully scheduled for the 2020 campaign. According to BYU Football spokesperson Brett Pyne, the team “will continue to announce additional games for the 2020 season as they are finalized.”

The school also announced Thursday that the BYU-Navy contest will be the first of a two-game series. Details for the second matchup in LaVell Edwards Stadium will be announced at a later date.

Navy is coming off an 11-2 2019 season capped off with a Liberty Bowl win over Kansas State. The Midshipmen finished the year as co-champions in the West Division of the American Athletic Conference and ranked No. 20 nationally. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has tallied a 98-60 record during his 10 years at the helm. He is the winningest head coach in the storied program’s history.

This year’s Labor Day game will mark the third time the two teams have played each other. Navy won the first contest 23-16 in the 1978 Holiday Bowl while the Cougars gained revenge in Annapolis in 1989, winning 31-10.

“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 (Niumatalolo) 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.” 

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