SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- A nationally televised Sunday afternoon Week Zero game against Colgate highlights the 11-game 2017 Cal Poly football schedule announced Wednesday by Mustang director of athletics Don Oberhelman and head football coach Tim Walsh.
Next fall's schedule features five home games, including a late August matchup against Colgate, and six contests on the road, four of them Big Sky Conference games and non-conference contests at San Jose State and Northern Iowa.
Cal Poly opens its 2017 campaign at home against Patriot League member Colgate on Sunday, August 27, with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
The Raiders posted a 5-5 mark last fall with wins over Yale, Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lafayette and Georgetown, finishing third in the seven-team Patriot League with a 4-3 record. Colgate won the Patriot League crown in 2015.
"It's pretty cool to play a nationally televised game for your opener," said ninth-year Mustang head coach Tim Walsh. "We'll get some national exposure and there are not many others who will be playing that weekend. It will be nice for our fans who can't make it to the game to be able to see us on television.
"Hopefully we'll make a national splash with a win and build some momentum for San Jose State," Walsh added.
The game with the Spartans, originally set for Thursday, August 31, has been moved back to Saturday, Sept. 2. It will be Cal Poly's seventh consecutive year playing a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Mustangs played San Diego State in 2011, Wyoming in 2012, Fresno State and Colorado State in 2013, New Mexico State in 2014, Arizona State in 2015 and Nevada in 2016. Cal Poly also played San Jose State in 2006 and 2009.
With the Week Zero game, the Mustangs will have byes on Sept. 16 and Oct. 14.
"A six-day turnaround for San Jose State will be difficult, but two byes will help us," said Walsh. "You take the good with the bad."
In addition to Colgate, Cal Poly's other four home games, all Big Sky Conference contests with 6:05 p.m. kickoffs, are against Northern Arizona on Sept. 23, Weber State on Oct. 21, Portland State on Nov. 4 and Sacramento State on Nov. 11.
Homecoming is set for the Portland State game, with Parents and Family Weekend scheduled for the Weber State contest.
The Mustangs also play a non-conference game at Northern Iowa on Sept. 9, completing a home-and-home series. The Panthers visited Alex G. Spanos Stadium in 2015 and won 34-20.
Cal Poly's four Big Sky games on the road will be at Idaho State on Sept. 30, Southern Utah on Oct. 7, UC Davis in the annual Battle for the Golden Horseshoe on Oct. 28 and Northern Colorado on Nov. 18.
Cal Poly will not play Big Sky members Montana, Montana State, Eastern Washington and North Dakota in 2017. The Eagles and Fighting Hawks shared the Big Sky title in 2016 with 8-0 marks.
"I think it's overlooked that the best teams coming back are not Montana, Montana State, etc., as programs like Weber State and Southern Utah have made great strides in becoming some of the best in the Big Sky," said Walsh. "We will have our work cut out and take each week as championship week."
Cal Poly, 7-5 overall en route to its fourth Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth a year ago, is 25-15 in its first five seasons in the Big Sky, capturing the conference crown in 2012.
"We will have an opportunity to make a dent in the Big Sky," said Walsh. "We're going to play several teams that have made recent turnarounds. We need the support of our fans. Our players can't wait to get back on the field after the disappointing loss to San Diego in the playoffs last year."
Spring Camp begins April 8 and Cal Poly will hold its annual Spring Game on Saturday, May 6, at 9:30 a.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.