Tennessee vs. Ball State
Thursday, September 1st, 2022 | 6:00pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Neyland Stadium | TV: SEC Network
Knoxville, TN – It’s officially football time in Tennessee as the 2022 season kicks off with a primetime matchup against Ball State 6:00pm CT Thursday at Neyland Stadium.
The Volunteers will look to record their third straight season-opening victory as they welcome the Cardinals to Rocky Top.
Thursday’s contest will be televised on the SEC Network with Tom Hart (PxP), Jordan Rodgers (analyst) and Cole Cubelic (sideline analyst) on the call. Kickoff is slated for 6:04pm CT.
Bob Kesling (PxP), Pat Ryan (analyst), and Brent Hubbs (analyst) will call the action, with Kasey Funderburg handling sideline duties. The Big Orange Countdown pregame show begins at 4:00pm CT.
For the most up-to-date information on Tennessee’s 2022 gameday policies, please visit the Tennessee Football Gameday Information page on UTSports.com. Some important information is also listed below.
Tickets and Parking
Tickets for Thursday’s game that can be purchased at AllVols.com.
Starting this fall, tickets and parking passes to all Tennessee Athletics events, including football, will be digital and can be accessed through a mobile device to improve security and reduce the risk of ticket fraud as well as make the process more convenient for fans.
Fans will gain admission into Neyland Stadium via a unique QR code which will be scanned directly from a mobile device. For quick and easy entry into Tennessee Athletics venues, fans are encouraged to download the Tennessee Athletics app from the App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android).
Your mobile device is the ticket on gameday. All valid digital tickets will display a moving barcode or a hold near reader (tap-and-go) icon. PLEASE NOTE: SCREENSHOTS OF TICKETS WILL NOT SCAN AT THE GATE AND WILL NOT ALLOW ENTRY!
Printed PDF tickets will no longer be issued or accepted for entry at any Tennessee Athletics venue.
Tennessee Athletics Digital Ticket Fan Support Team members wearing lime green shirts will be stationed outside Neyland Stadium for fans needing assistance with the digital ticketing process. They will also have power banks courtesy of Threds Inc. to help with fans who need a charge to scan in.
The only authorized sources for tickets to Tennessee Athletics events are the Tennessee Athletics Ticket Office, AllVols.com, the venue box office where the athletic event is taking place and Ticketmaster.
A complete step-by-step guide on how to best access and use your digital tickets and parking passes, including diagrams and FAQ is available 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
Gameday Events and Activities
Neyland Stadium Fan Experience Enhancements
Fans can enjoy several enhancements to the gameday experience at Neyland Stadium, Shields-Watkins Field this fall, including new state-of-the-art videoboards above both end zones and the North End Zone Social Deck, among others.
For more information on all of the new stadium and gameday fan experience enhancements, click HERE.
Fireworks, Neyland Night Lights: The spectacular fireworks show that debuted last season during pregame and following UT touchdowns and victories returns in 2022. The dramatic LED light show is also back to accentuate in-game festivities. With a late sunset in September, there will be a halftime light show for the season-opener against Ball State and the September 17th contest versus Akron.
Toyota Volunteer Village: Toyota Volunteer Village will highlight a new artist or band each home game with a pregame concert series, providing Vol fans with the ultimate pregame atmosphere. Kelsey’s Woods will be the featured band for the season opener against Ball State on Thursday.
New this season will be a video wall for fans to check out other games around college football. Admission is free to all fans with or without a game ticket. A new food court debuts, along with appearances by Smokey and the Spirit Squad. Vol Village, located across from Circle Park, serves as the ideal spot to view the Vol Walk and the Pride of Southland Band march. Vol Village opens 3 ½ hours prior to kickoff and will open at 2:30pm CT on Thursday.
Truly’s Tailgate: Located outside Gate 9, fans can stop by for food and drinks at Truly’s Tailgate. Fans may enter Truly’s prior to gates opening without having a ticket scanned. When gates open, fans will need to scan their ticket to enter Truly’s. New food options this season include Texas Roadhouse and Big Orange Bites. For any game starting later than noon ET, Truly’s will open four hours prior to kickoff. For a noon kickoff, the tailgate will open at 9 a.m. Truly’s will stay open throughout the game, giving fans in the south concourse a variety of food, drinks, television entertainment, and additional restroom options. Truly’s will close at the end of the third quarter.
For complete gameday information, visit UTsports.com/gameday.
Need To Know
Hot Start to Heupel Era
After a record-setting debut, Josh Heupel enters his second season as head coach of the Vols. Of the eight first-year Power Five head coaches hired in 2021, no coach won more regular season games than Heupel (7). He also produced the most 2022 NFL Draft picks among coaches making their debut with a new team (5). The 27th head coach in Vol football history, Heupel’s 35 victories since the start of the 2018 season rank tied for ninth among active FBS head coaches. Heupel joined Lane Kiffin (7 in 2009), Phillip Fulmer (10 in 1993), Bill Battle (10 in 1970) and John Barnhill (8 in 1941) as the only UT coaches in the last 80 years (since 1941) to win seven or more games in his first season.
Thursday Night Openers
Tennessee is opening a season on a Thursday night for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in its existence. The Vols are 3-0 in those previous matchups. UT beat Bowling Green last season, 38-6, and in 2016, the Vols held on for a 20-13 overtime victory over Appalachian State. The other win came by a 28-11 fashion at Louisville to open the 1991 campaign.
Overall, UT is 93-26-6 all-time in season openers and 75-14-4 (.826) in season openers played in Knoxville. The Big Orange are 55-12-3 (.804) in season openers played in Neyland Stadium, Shields-Watkins Field (since 1921).
Looking Back at 2021
Picked to finish fifth in the SEC East, Heupel guided Tennessee to a 7-6 first-year campaign and a 4-4 mark in SEC play to take third place in the division. The Vols beat six teams by at least 24 points en route to a Music City Bowl appearance. They dropped a 48-45 thriller to Purdue, racking up a school-bowl record 666 yards of total offense, including a career-high 378 yards passing and five touchdowns from QB Hendon Hooker.
The Vols shattered eight team single-season records in 2021, including points (511), total offensive yards (6,174), touchdowns (67), point after touchdowns made (67), total first downs (316), rushing first downs (164), fewest interceptions thrown (3) and passing efficiency (167.10).
Hooker and senior wide receiver Cedric Tillman return this season to form one of the quarterback-receiver duos in the nation. The two have connected for at least one touchdown in three straight games and 10 games overall.
Last season, the two connected for touchdowns 10 times, which tied for fourth among QB-to-WR combos in UT single-season history. Peyton Manning-to-Marcus Nash is the single-season school record with 13 in 1997. The two need three more touchdowns together to crack the UT career QB-to-WR touchdown combos.
Thursday will mark the first ever meeting on the gridiron between the Vols and Cardinals. Tennessee is 8-0 against current Mid-American Conference (MAC) teams: Akron (2-0), Bowling Green (2-0), Buffalo (1-0), Ohio (2-0), and Northern Illinois (1-0).
About Ball State
Led by seventh-year head coach Mike Neu, Ball State enters the 2022 season fresh off its second consecutive bowl appearance. The Cardinals went 6-6 in the regular season last year before falling to Georgia State in the TaxAct Camellia Bowl.
They return 11 starters from last year’s team (six on offense, five on defense), including their top rusher and receiver in sophomore running back Carson Steele and senior wideout Jayshon Jackson.
Steele rushed for 891 yards and six touchdowns on 192 carries in 2021 while Jackson hauled in 69 receptions for 829 yards and five touchdowns. Redshirt junior John Paddock takes over at quarterback following the departure of three-year starter Drew Plitt.
Junior linebacker Clayton Coll returns to lead the defense after finishing third on the team with 108 tackles last year to go along with five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Redshirt sophomore defensive end Tavion Woodard is also back after leading the team with five sacks in 2021.