Heupel Era Kicks Off Thursday vs. Bowling Green
Football season has officially arrived on Rocky Top
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Football season has officially arrived on Rocky Top as the Tennessee Volunteers open their 2021 season against Bowling Green Thursday in primetime on SEC Network at 8 p.m.
The Vols will open their 125th season and begin a centennial celebration of Neyland Stadium, Shields-Watkins Field on Thursday night, while also getting the Josh Heupel era underway.
Thursday’s game will be televised on the SEC Network with Tom Hart (PxP), Jordan Rodgers (analyst) and Cole Cubelic (sideline) on the call. Kickoff is slated for 8:04 p.m. ET.Fans can also listen to Tennessee’s official radio broadcast on the Vol Network (WIVK-FM 107.7/WNML-FM 99.1) and satellite radio (Sirius Ch. 138, XM Ch. 190, Internet Ch. 961).
A live audio stream of the broadcast will also be available on UTSports.com and the Official Gameday App.Bob Kesling (PxP), Pat Ryan (analyst) and Brent Hubbs (analyst) will call the action, with Kasey Funderburg handling sideline duties. Big Orange Countdown begins at 6:30 p.m.
For the most up-to-date information on Tennessee’s 2021 gameday policies, please visit the Tennessee Football Gameday Information page on UTSports.com. Some important information is also listed below.
Tickets and Parking
Fans with digital tickets and/or parking are encouraged to download their ticket(s) and parking to their phone prior to arriving at the gate or parking lot. Fans still interested in purchasing tickets to the game can visit AllVols.com or click HERE.
Tennessee Athletics App
Fans are encouraged to download the Tennessee Athletics app, which now houses the Coca-Cola GBO Zone, allowing fans to play trivia, take part in a light show and much more. Search “Tennessee Athletics” in the Apple or Google Play Store or use this link to download: http://utsports.com/app
NEED TO KNOW
Fan Experience Upgrades
As we enter the 100th season at Neyland Stadium, Shield-Watkins Field, Tennessee Athletics has unveiled several new, exciting fan experience enhancements for the 2021 football season. Among the new gameday enhancements are new LED stadium lights, ungraded fireworks and “I Will Give My All” signs throughout the stadium.Fans should plan to be in their seats 30 minutes before kickoff to take in new game day experiences leading up to the game. The Pride of the Southland Band march will start via the Joe Johnson–John Ward Pedestrian Walkway crossing over Volunteer and continuing via the bridge to the stadium.More info on all of the new gameday enhancements can be found HERE.
LED Lights: A vibrant, state-of-the-art LED lighting system is in the final stages of completion in Neyland Stadium. A dramatic LED light show will accentuate pregame and in-game festivities.
Fireworks: The traditional fireworks show is moving and now bigger than ever. Fireworks will now be showcased from the roof of the north end zone and the east and west skybox rooftops during pregame and following UT touchdowns and victories.”
I Will Give My All”: As fans make their way to their seats, they can participate in a similar tradition as the Volunteers who take the field. “I Will Give My All” signs have been installed above the portals entering each section of Neyland Stadium. Just as the team is reminded to “Give My All” before running through the T pregame, each fan entering the stadium is encouraged to do the same.
Vol Village: Make sure you visit Vol Village presented by Toyota for a whole new fan experience. It’s FREE for all fans with or without a game ticket. There will be live music, activities for everyone of all ages, food trucks, and more. Vol Village, located in a great spot to see the Vol Walk and the Band March is just across from Circle Park. The Toyota Vol Village on Sept. 2 will feature the band The Desert City Ramblers, a video game truck, tailgate games and much more! Fans can stop by from 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Truly’s Tailgate: Truly’s Tailgate, located outside Gate 9 will open at 4 p.m. and stay open through the end of the third quarter. Fans can stop by for food and drinks during that time.
Heupel Era Begins
Josh Heupel makes his Tennessee debut after three successful years as the head coach at UCF. The 27th head coach in Vol football history, Heupel owned a 28-8 record at UCF. His 28 victories rank ninth among FBS head coaches over the past three seasons. Heupel’s units ranked second in the FBS in total offense in each of the past two seasons, including a Power 5-best 568.1 yards per game last season at UCF. Heupel returns to the SEC after serving as the offensive coordinator at Missouri from 2016-17. Under his watch, Mizzou led the SEC in total offense in both seasons.
For the first time since 2016, Tennessee will open a season on a Thursday night. The Vols held on for a 20-13 overtime victory over Appalachian State in Knoxville that year on Sept. 1. This is the third time that UT will open a season on a Thursday. The Vols are 2-0 in those contests with the other win coming by a 28-11 score at Louisville to open the 1991 campaign on Sept. 5. UT owns a 26-20-7 record all-time in Thursday games. Its last Thursday contest (all games) was a 23-22 win vs. Indiana in the 2020 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. The Vols are 15-5-2 all-time in Thursday games played in Neyland Stadium.Tennessee owns a 92-26-6 record all-time in season-openers. The Vols are 74-14-4 (.826) in season-openers played in Knoxville. UT is 54-12-3 (.804) in season-openers played in Neyland Stadium, Shields-Watkins Field (since 1921). UT opened the COVID-19 2020 season with a 31-27 win at South Carolina last September. Heupel is 3-0 in season openers as a head coach, outscoring opponents 167-38.
Tennessee and Bowling Green are meeting for just the second time. The Vols have won 19 out of their last 23 games against non-conference opponents dating back to the last meeting between the two teams to open the 2015 season. UT has won three in a row over non-SEC foes with its last win occurring against Indiana in the 2020 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. Heupel was 8-3 in non-conference games in three seasons at UCF.
Looking for Win No. 850
Tennessee’s next victory will be its 850th. The Vols are seeking to become the 10th FBS program to reach 850 wins, joining Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State and USC.
Statues Honoring UT Trailblazers
Tennessee will unveil a new and permanent tribute to four trailblazers from throughout the storied history of Volunteer football as a kickoff to Neyland Stadium’s year-long centennial celebration. Prior to the game on Thursday, larger-than-life bronze statues commemorating Lester McClain, Jackie Walker, Condredge Holloway and Tee Martin will be unveiled in the plaza outside Gate 21 at Neyland Stadium. More info can be found HERE.
Vols lead series, 1-0
Tennessee and Bowling Green square off for just the second time and the first time since the 2015 season-opener in Nashville.That game was the debut for VFL and current New Orleans Saints star running back Alvin Kamara, who is now pictured on the back of Neyland Stadium’s videoboard. Kamara led the Big Orange with 144 yards rushing and scored a pair of touchdowns to help lead UT to a 59-30 victory.
ABOUT BOWLING GREEN
Bowling Green enters the 2021 season looking to put a disappointing 2020 campaign behind them after finishing 0-5 during the COVID-shortened season. Falcons are led by third-year head coach Scott Loeffler, who is 3-14 during his time with the program.The Falcons one of the youngest teams in college football, boasting a roster that includes 71 players who graduated high school in 2020 or 2021, which is the third most in the nation. Only 16 current players have started a game for BGSU entering this season. One of those players in senior quarterback Matt McDonald, who started all five games for the Falcons in 2020, passing for 712 yards.In an effort to add some experience to the roster, Bowling Green added seven transfers from Power 5 schools: Bryce Brand (West Virginia), Davon Ferguson (Kansas), Jayden George (Alabama), Tommy Guajardo (Michigan State), Austin Osborne (Washington), Ali Saad (Minnesota) and Devin Taylor (Virginia Tech).
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