CEDAR CITY, Utah, March 13 - Southern Utah's first football schedule upon entering the Big Sky Conference includes a handful of highlights. The 2012 SUU slate features five home games, including four Big Sky contests, as well as road games at a pair of NCAA FBS-level opponents: Utah State and Cal.

The Thunderbirds open the season with a pair of road games: at Utah State on Thursday, August 30, then travel to Berkeley, Calif., for a meeting with Cal the following weekend (Sept. 8).

SUU opens its home schedule against an old rival, New Mexico Highlands, Sept. 15. The Thunderbirds and Cowboys met 15 times in the past when both schools were members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference but have not faced each other since the 1985 season.

On Sept. 22 the Thunderbirds will play their first official Big Sky football game when they play at Portland State. PSU and SUU are also old rivals who squared off nine times when both teams were members of the Western Football Conference.

SUU's first home Big Sky game comes the following week when the Thunderbirds host defending conference co-champion Montana State on Sept. 29 in the school's annual Homecoming Game. SUU remains at home the following week for another BSC matchup, an Oct. 6 date with Sacramento State.

The Thunderbirds travel to FCS semi-finalist and 2011 BSC co-champ Montana on Oct. 13, then host the first of back-to-back conference opponents on Oct. 20 when Weber State visits Eccles Coliseum. SUU wraps up the 2012 home schedule on Oct. 27 when it hosts Eastern Washington, the 2010 FCS champion.

Road games at North Dakota (Nov. 3) and Northern Arizona (Nov. 10) wrap up the conference and regular-season schedules for the Thunderbirds.

"Our players have been looking forward to the 2012 season of Big Sky competition ever since the announcement was made that SUU would join the conference," SUU Coach Ed Lamb said. "This team has worked incredibly hard in hopes of representing our fine university."

2012 SUU Schedule

8-30 -- At Utah State            

9-8 -- At California

9-15 -- New Mexico Highlands

9-22 -- At Portland State*

9-29 -- Montana State* (HC)

10-6 -- Sacramento State*

10-13 -- At Montana*

10-20 -- Weber State*

10-27 -- Eastern Washington*

11-3 -- At North Dakota*

11-10 -- At Northern Arizona*

* Big Sky Conference Game