Vols Football Season Opener Gets Thursday Prime Time Slot

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(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – First-year Tennessee head football coach Josh Heupel and his Volunteers will make their debut in a nationally televised SEC Network primetime game on Thursday, Sept. 2, against Bowling Green in Neyland Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. ET.

The contest was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4.

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“Any time you consider moving football games to a weekday—which is rare—you want to be sensitive to out-of-town fans who have to make plans to travel to Knoxville,” Tennessee Director of Athletics Danny White said. “In this case, the Labor Day holiday and four-month lead time should help in that regard. Sliding our opener to this Thursday primetime window gave us a wonderful opportunity for our football student-athletes to kick off their season in the national spotlight.

“This should be a fun way to begin celebrating 100 years of Neyland Stadium while also beginning an exciting new era of Tennessee football under Josh Heupel. I cannot wait to feel the electricity as the Vols come bursting through that T on Thursday night.”

The 2021 opener commences the centennial celebration of Neyland Stadium, which opened in 1921. Tennessee and Bowling Green are meeting for just the second time. The Vols began the 2015 season with a 59-30 neutral-site win over the Falcons in Nashville.

Heupel takes the reins of the Volunteers as one of college football’s winningest head coaches over the past three seasons. He produced a 28-8 overall record at UCF, a 2018 American Athletic Conference championship and three bowl appearances, including a New Year’s Six Fiesta Bowl berth in January 2019.

Heupel’s up-tempo offenses have established a track record of success. The Knights ranked in the FBS top five in total offense in each of his three seasons, and they were top 10 in points per game all three years as well. In both seasons as Missouri offensive coordinator from 2016-17, Heupel’s unit led the Southeastern Conference in total offense and ranked in the top 15 nationally.

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.

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