The Vols will appear on the SEC Network in two of the opening three weeks.
Kickoff times and television listings for Tennessee’s first three games of the highly-anticipated 2016 season were today.
As announced in late May, the Volunteers will open their 120th season of football on Rocky Top with a Thursday night contest against Appalachian State on Sept. 1. The first meeting between the two schools is set for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on the SEC Network. Tennessee is 11-1 in games shown on the SEC Network, which will begin its third season in 2016.
When the Mountaineers roll into Knoxville to lift the lid on the 2016 season, it will be the first time since 1938 that UT has hosted a Thursday night game. Additionally, the season-opening contest will mark the first time since 1896 that the Vols have played a home opener on a Thursday.
In the season’s second week, Tennessee meets Virginia Tech on Sept. 10 in the historic Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol. That game has been tapped to air on ABC’s Saturday Night Football, kicking off at 8 p.m. ET. The announcement opens viewing access to millions of fans across the nation, offering an opportunity for those outside the already expected 160,000 in attendance at Bristol Motor Speedway to witness the legendary game.
A week later, the Vols return to Neyland Stadium to host Ohio on Sept. 17 at 12 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. It will be Tennessee’s first meeting with the Bobcats since earning a 34-23 victory over Ohio in 2009, not to mention head coach Butch Jones’ first tilt against the Bobcats since his Central Michigan team defeated Ohio in the 2009 MAC championship game.
Coming off a 9-4 record and a resounding 45-6 win over 13th-ranked Northwestern in the Outback Bowl last season, Tennessee is one of just four FBS programs that will enter the 2016 season on an active winning streak of six games or more. Tennessee returns a pair of All-Americans in kick returner Evan Berry and cornerback/punt returner Cameron Sutton while senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs is 14-5 over his last 19 career starts and looks to build off of a standout junior campaign. Jalen Hurd, who was the Outback Bowl MVP, is one of the top running backs in the nation and, with 2,187 career rushing yards, is just 891 yards shy of Travis Henry’s UT record of 3,078 from 1997-2000. Sutton, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and defensive end Derek Barnett lead a strong, veteran UT defense that has been one of the country’s most-improved over the last four years.