UTC coach Russ Huesman looks at the scoreboard as UTC hosts the Citadel on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. UTC won by a score of 31-17.

2016 UTC football schedule

Sept. 1 Shorter

Sept. 10 Presbyterian

Sept. 17 at Furman

Sept. 24 Samford

Oct. 1 at East Tennessee State

Oct. 8 Mercer

Oct. 15 at The Citadel

Oct. 22 Virginia Military Institute

Oct. 29 at Western Carolina

Nov. 12 Wofford

Nov. 19 at Alabama

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 2016 football schedule is highlighted by a Thursday night opener at Finley Stadium, one of six home games for the Mocs.

UTC released the 11-game schedule Thursday.

The three-time defending Southern Conference champions will open Sept. 1 against NCAA Division II member Shorter College with a 7 p.m. kickoff at Finley. It will be the program's first Thursday night opener since a 31-21 loss to UT-Martin on Aug. 29, 2013.

That will be followed by a Sept. 10 home game against fellow Football Championship Subdivision program Presbyterian, a Big South Conference member. The Mocs beat the Blue Hose 21-0 last season in Clinton, S.C.

UTC will close the regular season Nov. 19 at Football Bowl Subdivision power Alabama, which has won a national championship four of the past seven seasons, including 2015. The Mocs have played Alabama twice since Russ Huesman became UTC head coach before the 2009 season. UTC lost both games — 45-0 on Nov. 21, 2009, and 49-0 on Nov. 23, 2013.

The Mocs' SoCon schedule will feature eight dates with the addition of rival East Tennessee State University to the league. UTC will host Samford, Mercer, Virginia Military Institute and Wofford while traveling to Furman, ETSU, The Citadel and Western Carolina.

The Mocs will travel to Johnson City to face ETSU on Oct. 1 for the teams' first meeting since Nov. 15, 2003. The Buccaneers resumed football competition last year after the program folded following the 2003 season.

UTC returns nine starters on offense and at least nine players with starting experience on defense, along with both kickers. The Mocs finished 9-4 last season, when they made their second consecutive appearance in the FCS playoffs.

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