Stony Brook University Football team runs out onto the field at the start of the Homecoming game on Oct. 5, 2019. The Stony Brook football team will be playing against the Western Michigan Broncos for its season opener. SAMANTHA ROBINSON/STATESMAN FILE

The Stony Brook football team will be facing more than just the challenge of getting ready for the season in the middle of a pandemic. 

On Thursday, July 2, Stony Brook added their second Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent, the Western Michigan Broncos, as their season opener now scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This game replaces their previously scheduled matchup against the Fordham Rams on Aug. 29.

“Football games are typically scheduled years in advance. Scheduling this game was anything but typical,” Stony Brook Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron said in a press release. “As one of the few programs with a bye in Week 1, we were proactive in filling that date with the knowledge that our opener at Fordham would likely not occur.”

Fordham’s parent conference, the Patriot League, announced previously that they would no longer begin non-conference competition before Sept. 4, which meant that Stony Brook could no longer face the Rams. Because Western Michigan was faced with the same problem in their season opener against the Colgate Raiders, also of the Patriot League, the Seawolves saw the opportunity to both fill a hole in their schedule and face greater competition.

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“We are very excited about the opportunity to compete against Western Michigan to open the season and look forward to traveling to Kalamazoo,” Heilbron said.

The Seawolves will now have to face two consecutive FBS opponents to start 2020 in what will be an immense challenge for a Football Championship Subdivision school that finished 5-7 last season. Stony Brook suffered a 62-7 loss when they last challenged an FBS school in Utah State, whose former quarterback Jordan Love now plays for the Green Bay Packers after being selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Nevertheless, Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic both finished with winning records against FBS competition in 2019, with records of 7-6 in the Mid-American Conference and 11-3 in Conference USA respectively. Florida Atlantic even won their conference, something that Stony Brook didn’t come particularly close to doing in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2019. 

Stony Brook has not defeated an FBS opponent since a 23-3 win in 2012 against the Army Black Knights, who would go 2-10 that season. 2012 was also the last season that the Seawolves scheduled two FBS opponents, having lost to Syracuse and future Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib earlier that year.

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Either way, Stony Brook looks to have one of their most challenging seasons in a very long time this year. 

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