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Record-Courier staff report
The schedule that will stare back at second-year Kent State football coach Paul Haynes was officially released on Friday.
After a 2013 season that was one of the most challenging in the program's history, 2014's slate offers little breathing room also.
And it gets started right away, with the Golden Flashes hosting Mid-American Conference East Division rival Ohio in the season opener on Aug. 30 in Kent at Dix Stadium.
"When you add the element of a MAC East opponent to our opener, it raises the stakes even more," Haynes said. "Everyone goes in with the goal of winning the conference. And there's no room for error at the very start. Emotions are going to be running high. You've got two teams that just played each other at the end of (last) season. And that one's always fresh in your mind."
In the month of November, Kent State's national exposure will be lifted high, with all four of its games that month scheduled for national telecast on an ESPN affiliate.
"We're super excited that ESPN and the MAC got the whole month on TV," Haynes said. "As I talk to a lot of alums from out-of-state ... the one thing they always mention is that they saw our last two games (in 2013). Now they'll be able to see the last four."
"It's huge for all of our alumni and supporters around the country," Haynes said.
Closing out that four-game span and the regular season, Kent State will host arch-rival Akron the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 25).
"Those games make themselves because of the rivalry, and to have it at the end of the year can put even more excitement on it," Haynes said. "Now we're also a part of someone special with college football with it being rivalry week."
On Saturday, Oct. 18, Kent State will celebrate its Homecoming against Army.
"It's awesome any time you get a chance to play one of the service academies," Haynes said. "We're honored to have them come to Dix Stadium. And to have them on Homecoming, it just raises the excitement of the game. It'll be a fun day for our players and our fans."
Kent State's full schedule is as follows:
Aug. 30 Ohio
Sept. 6 South Alabama
Sept. 13 at Ohio State
Sept. 20 BYE
Sept. 27 at Virginia
Oct. 4 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 11 UMass
Oct. 18 Army
Oct. 25 at Miami
Nov. 1 BYE
Nov. 4 Toledo
Nov. 12 at Bowling Green
Nov. 19 at Buffalo
Nov. 25 Akron