Josh Heupel has been playing catch-up since his hiring as Tennessee's football coach in late January, and his window before taking the Volunteers into action just got shorter.
The dawning of the Heupel era against Bowling Green inside Neyland Stadium has been moved up from Saturday, Sept. 4, to Thursday, Sept. 2. The game will have an 8 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by the SEC Network.
There were no Thursday night contests in the Southeastern Conference's regular season a year ago due to the coronavirus-altered schedule.
"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 athletic director Danny White said in a release. "In this case, the Labor Day holiday and four-month lead time should help in that regard. Sliding our opener to this Thursday prime-time 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 a Thursday night."
Tennessee last opened on a Thursday night in 2016, when the Vols escaped visiting Appalachian State 20-13 in overtime. The Vols also have opened recent seasons on a Friday (topping North Carolina State in 2012), a Sunday (whipping Utah State in 2014) and a Monday (outlasting Georgia Tech in 2017).
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