Pederson said the evening game will give Husker fans an opportunity to enjoy a full day of festivities before the start of Bill Callahan's first game as Nebraska head coach.
"There is already a tremendous amount of excitement about Coach Callahan's debut as head coach, and playing at night gives our fans a chance to get into Lincoln early on opening day and enjoy the game-day atmosphere," Pederson said.
Western Illinois is one of the top teams at the Division I-AA level, and has made the playoffs in three of the last five seasons under Head Coach Don Patterson. Last season the Leathernecks finished with a 9-4 record, including a game with eventual national champion LSU in Baton Rouge.
The evening opener will mark the second time in the past three years the Huskers' home opener has been played at night. In 2002, Nebraska opened with a night game against Arizona State, the first of three evening games at Memorial Stadium to open that season.
This season will be only the fourth time in school history Nebraska has opened the season with a home night game. In 1986, Nebraska defeated Florida State, 34-17, in the first-ever game under the lights at Memorial Stadium, and in 1990 Nebraska defeated Baylor, 13-0. A year ago, Nebraska had one home night game, an 18-10 victory over Penn State on Sept. 13 that was televised by ABC Sports.
The remaining game times for Nebraska's 2004 season are to be determined pending announcements from the Big 12's television partners.
2004 Nebraska Football Schedule
Sept. 4 Western Illinois (6 p.m.)
Sept. 11 Southern Mississippi
Sept. 18 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 2 Kansas
Oct. 9 at Texas Tech
Oct. 16 Baylor
Oct. 23 at Kansas State
Oct. 30 Missouri
Nov. 6 at Iowa State
Nov. 13 at Oklahoma
Nov. 26 Colorado