VIDEO: Mike Turner Interview
The other two times Carson-Newman has been at home seven times in the regular season, the Eagles made the NCAA playoffs (2002 and 2015).
"It's very important for us to be at home," Turner said. "We've got a lot of young kids who will need to play early. The more opportunities you have at home, especially early, those are good and positive opportunities for your football team."
Carson-Newman opens up the season for a sixth straight season on a Thursday at home. The Eagles broke with tradition last year, kicking off its game with nationally-ranked Humboldt State at 1 p.m. This year, the Aug. 31 game reverts to its traditional 7 o'clock kickoff time. NAIA's Pikeville is the opponent. It will be the Eagles' first matchup ever with the Bears. Pikeville went 6-5 last year, but had a pair of victories over top 20 opponents.
"That's a great tradition," Turner said. "It's Labor Day Weekend. You get a chance to give the kids a break that weekend after a long, grueling camp. That's a positive thing, and it's timely at that point in your season."
This will also be the first time Carson-Newman plays a game in the month of August since 2012. The Eagles started that season with a bananas 56-46 win over Glenville State to get Ken Sparks his 300th career win.
Carson-Newman remains at home in week two to face off with Saint Augustine's. The Eagles are 3-0 all-time against the Falcons and won last year's meeting in Raleigh 48-14.
Week three features Carson-Newman's first road trip of the season. The Eagles head to Wingate for a 6 p.m. kick with the Bulldogs. Wingate got its fifth win in 29 tries against Carson-Newman last season. The Bulldogs prevailed 29-16.
C-N closes out the month of September with back-to-back home games. Kickoffs are set for 1 p.m. against both Newberry and Catawba in week's four and five. Both the Wolves and Indians notched wins over the Eagles last season.
"The SAC was as even as it could be last season," Turner said. "When you start playing people that you know well and they know you well. I think it's important that we get to play those three early, especially since we lost to all three of them last year. That will be a great challenge and barometer for the month of September. October and November aren't a whole lot easier."
The Eagles open up October with back-to-back road games. C-N starts off at Limestone on Oct. 7. The Eagles are 2-0 all-time against the Saints, and took the first meeting in Gaffney 69-28. Oct. 14 sends the Eagles to Meares Stadium for a meet up with Mars Hill.
C-N hasn't lost to the Lions since 2011. The Eagles haven't rushed for less than 420 yards over that span. The Eagles rushed for 488 in 2012, 433 in 2013, 428 in 2014, 435 yards in 2015 and 428 last season. What's more, the Eagles have produced at least 500 yards of total offense in three of those five games. The Eagles tied a school record with eight rushing touchdowns in the 2015 game.
The Eagles return home for two more games on Oct. 21. That date is homecoming with North Greenville. The Eagles have won five straight homecoming contests dating back to a 42-14 loss to UNC Pembroke on homecoming in 2011. North Greenville is coming off an appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals last season. The Crusaders handed the Eagles a 34-24 loss last season.
Carson-Newman closes out its home conference slate on Oct. 28 when rival Tusculum comes to town. The Pioneers snatched a 31-30 win in overtime from Carson-Newman last season in Greeneville on a two-point conversion.
Carson-Newman plays its final road game of the regular season on Nov. 4. C-N takes on Lenoir-Rhyne, which has defeated it five straight times. The Eagles haven't lost five games in-a-row to an opponent since the mid-1970s. The Eagles lead the all-time series with the Bears 43-15.
The Eagles conclude the regular season on Nov. 11. UNC Pembroke is the opponent. The Eagles and Braves collide for the first time since 2012. The Eagles took a 31-10 win from Pembroke that year. The series between the two teams is tied 2-2.
"It will take focus and great effort down the stretch," Turner said. "There are no off dates. We have to have concentrated effort every week. You can't have let downs. We'll have to stay on an equal level to be competitive."
Between UNCP and North Greenville, the Eagles will play half the teams that made the regional semifinals last year. Add in Newberry, and the Eagles have games against three of the seven teams that made NCAA play a year ago.
For more offseason updates on Carson-Newman football, follow @CNathletics and @CNFootball on Twitter. Tickets are on sale. Call 865-471-3396 to reserve seats.
Aug. 31, 2017 Pikeville 7:00 PM
Sep. 09, 2017 St. Augustine's 1:00 PM
Sep. 16, 2017 at Wingate * 6:00 PM
Sep. 23, 2017 Newberry * 1:00 PM
Sep. 30, 2017 Catawba * 1:00 PM
Oct. 07, 2017 at Limestone 1:00 PM
Oct. 14, 2017 at Mars Hill * 1:00 PM
Oct. 21, 2017 North Greenville Homecoming 3:00 PM
Oct. 28, 2017 Tusculum * 1:00 PM
Nov. 04, 2017 at Lenoir-Rhyne * 2:00 PM
Nov. 11, 2017 UNC Pembroke Senior Day 1:00 PM