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WKU head football coach Tyson Helton observes a play during the Red vs White Spring game on April 13. "We're right where we need to be at this stage," Helton said. "The summer time will be really important for us, that's the next step in the process." CHRIS KOHLEY/HERALD

One year removed from a season that saw all games at Houchens-Smith Stadium played under the lights at 6:30 p.m., WKU football will play a slightly more varied schedule during the 2019 season.

The Hilltoppers' first three home games will still be evening kickoffs, but start times of the program's final three contests will be shifted to feature early afternoon kickoffs late in the year.

Here is the updated 2019 football schedule, featuring current broadcast information in addition to kickoff dates and times:

Central Arkansas – Aug. 29 – 6:30 p.m. – ESPN+

Originally announced for Aug. 31, the season opener was pushed up to a Thursday kickoff. The game will be the program’s first home contest on a Thursday since the 2016 season opener against Rice — a 46-14 win over the Owls in former quarterback Mike White's WKU debut.

At Florida International – Sept. 7 – 6 p.m. – ESPN+

WKU begins Conference USA play Week 2, marking the first time the Hilltoppers have played a C-USA game within the first two weeks since the 2016 season. The program's longest road trip will come early, and WKU is still seeking its first victory over FIU in Butch Davis' time as head coach.

Louisville (Nashville) – Sept. 14 – 3 p.m. – Stadium

After months of speculation, the program announced a 3 p.m. kickoff on May 14. First-year head coaches Tyson Helton and Scott Satterfield will lead the Hilltoppers and Cardinals, respectively, into battle. The game will take place in Nashville at Nissan Stadium, the home turf of the Tennessee Titans.

Alabama-Birmingham – Sept. 28 – 6 p.m. – ESPN+

After their first bye week, WKU will play reigning C-USA champion UAB. The programs have not met since UAB reinstated its football program, as the schools last squared off during the 2014 season.

At Old Dominion – Oct. 5 – 5 p.m. – ESPN+

WKU will aim to avenge last season’s heartbreaking home loss to the Monarchs. In that contest, a stunned crowd watched ODU score 18 points in the last 5:40 of the contest to pull off an absolutely improbable road win. The Hilltoppers still lead the all-time series over their East Division rival, 4-1.

Army – Oct. 12 – 6 p.m. – Stadium

The Black Knights are coming off the first 11-win season in Army history. Head coach Jeff Monken's squad was ranked No. 19 in the final Associated Press poll of 2018 — its highest finish in 60 years.

Charlotte (Homecoming) – Oct. 19 – 3 p.m. – ESPN+

The Hilltoppers have met the 49ers only twice in school history, but both matchups have been blowouts for either side. The 2017 season saw WKU defeat visiting Charlotte 45-14 in another Homecoming clash, but WKU fell 40-14 to the 49ers on the road last season.

At Marshall – Oct. 26 – TBD - Stadium on Facebook

After winning three straight in the Moonshine Throwdown from 2014-16, the Hilltoppers have dropped two contests in a row to the Thundering Herd. As if WKU's recent skid didn't sting bad enough, the losing streak has also helped its rival take the lead in the all-time series, 6-4.

Florida Atlantic – Nov. 2 – 3 p.m. – ESPN+

FAU leads the all-time series over WKU 7-3, and WKU is still seeking its first victory over the Owls since Lane Kiffin took the reins prior to the 2017 season. The Hilltoppers' two losses in Kiffin's tenure have both been lopsided — 42-28 in 2017 and 34-15 in 2018.

At Arkansas – Nov. 9 – TBD – TBD

WKU's last step out of C-USA play will come after a long road trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas. The contest between the Razorbacks and the Hilltoppers will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams, as graduate transfer quarterback Ty Storey also faces his former Arkansas teammates.

At Southern Mississippi – Nov. 23 – TBD – ESPN+

The Hilltoppers will meet the Golden Eagles for just the third time in program history late in the season. The contest will be the first time the two schools have met since the 2015 C-USA championship game. It will also mark WKU's first-ever road meeting with Southern Miss.

Middle Tennessee (Senior Day) – Nov. 30 – 1 p.m. – ESPN+

WKU fell to MTSU for the first time since 2014 last season a year ago, dropping a 29-10 decision in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Blue Raiders will look to play spoiler to Senior Day festivities in a contest that could have major bowl game implications for both squads.

Sports Editor Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and clinton.kizer287@topper.wku.edu. Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.