The Vols and UCLA Bruins, in conjunction with ESPN, have agreed to turn their anticipated September matchup into a Monday night football extravaganza. The intersectional contest now is set for Labor Day evening Sept. 1 – five days earlier than previously scheduled – and kicks off at 5 p.m. Pacific time (8 p.m. Eastern) from the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
ESPN will televise the game.
“The opportunity to play unopposed on national television against such a quality opponent as UCLA was something we couldn’t pass up,” UT athletics director Mike Hamilton said. “It’s a great time slot for a national game of interest like this one.”
Tennessee was scheduled to begin its 2008 season Aug. 30 at home against UAB. The Neyland Stadium opener still features the Blazers from Conference USA, but that game shifts to Sept. 13 with a 7 p.m. start. Sept. 13 previously was an open date for the Vols.
The Sept. 6 slot on the calendar that had featured Tennessee’s trip to UCLA now becomes an off weekend to allow recovery time after the Monday night contest on the West Coast.
The remainder of UT’s schedule, beginning with Florida’s visit to Neyland Stadium on Sept. 20, is unchanged.
“I am very excited about the chance to play in the Monday night national spotlight against an outstanding opponent like UCLA,” head coach Phillip Fulmer said. “I think it will be a great kickoff to the season and our players and coaches are thrilled with the opportunity.”
College football’s opening weekend now culminates squarely on Tennessee’s 14th all-time meeting against UCLA. The Vols lead the Bruins 7-4-2, having won four of the last five dating to 1989. Two of those wins were in Pasadena, including a 30-24 victory behind senior QB Peyton Manning in 1997’s most recent matchup.
Adding to the game’s attraction, a pair of newly-hired coaches in Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson and UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel surely will receive plenty of notoriety leading into the showdown.
Hamilton added that Tuesday’s announcement is exactly why he strives to maintain Tennessee’s interesting slate of non-conference opponents. After a return visit to Knoxville by UCLA in 2009, the Vols host Oregon in 2010, travel to North Carolina in 2011, host the Tar Heels in 2012, travel to Oregon in 2013, visit Oklahoma in 2014, host the Sooners in 2015, travel to Nebraska in 2016, host the Cornhuskers in 2017, and then play at home against Ohio State in 2018 before traveling to Columbus in 2019.
Last season, UT completed a two-game series against California with a season-opening trip to Berkeley. The home team was victorious in both contests, with Tennessee winning 35-18 in Knoxville to begin 2006 and Cal claiming a 45-31 decision last September.
2008 Tennessee Football Schedule
Sept. 1 at UCLA
Sept. 13 UAB
Sept. 20 Florida*
Sept. 27 at Auburn*
Oct. 4 Northern Illinois
Oct. 11 at Georgia*
Oct. 18 Mississippi State*
Oct. 25 Alabama*
Nov. 1 at South Carolina*
Nov. 8 Wyoming (HC)
Nov. 22 at Vanderbilt*
Nov. 29 Kentucky*
Dec. 6 SEC Championship (Atlanta)
* SEC Opponent; (HC) Homecoming
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information