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CHAMPAIGN — Illinois football fans can start setting up their tailgate plans. At least for the first three games of the 2019 season. Kickoff times for the season opener against Akron, first road game at UConn and final nonconference game against Eastern Michigan were announced Thursday along with a pair of Big Ten showdowns.

Illinois will open the 2019 season at 11 a.m. on Aug. 31 against Akron at Memorial Stadium. The Illini's road opener in East Hartford, Conn., against UConn on Sept. 7 is set for a 2:30 p.m. start, and the final nonconference tilt against Eastern Michigan will also be an 11 a.m. kickoff on Sept. 14. The nonconference games will air on BTN, CBS Sports Network and BTN, respectively.

While game time for the Big Ten opener against Nebraska at home has yet to be announced, Illinois will play a 2:30 or 3 p.m. game at Minnesota on Oct. 5 and host Wisconsin at 11 a.m. on Oct. 19 for Homecoming. The matchup with the Badgers will air on BTN.

Start times and broadcast information for the remaining games on the 2019 schedule will likely be determined on the customary 6- or 12-day advance notice during the season.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).