KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Football time in Tennessee will begin a little sooner in 2022 following the announcement of several changes to the opening weekend schedule by the Southeastern Conference.

Tennessee’s season opener has been moved up from Saturday, Sept. 3 to Thursday, Sept. 1. The opening game against Ball State will kick off at 7 p.m. on SEC Network.

The first meeting in football between Ball State and Tennessee will debut the newly-renovated Neyland Stadium which will feature two new state-of-the-art videoboards on the north and south ends, a lower-west premium club, enhanced chairback seating in multiple lower-west sections and a party deck social gathering space on the upper north end.

This September will also mark the 50th anniversary of the first night game at Neyland Stadium.

Head coach Josh Heupel will look to build on his successful first season on Rocky Top. After being picked by SEC media to finish fifth in the SEC East standings, the Vols picked up seven wins and earned a trip to the Music City Bowl.

Heupel was awarded the 2021 Steve Spurrier First Year Coach Award alongside South Carolina coach Shane Beamer, which is presented annually by Football Writers Association of America to the best coach in his first year at a school. He is one of only five Vol head coaches in the last 80 years to win seven or more games in his first season.

UT shattered eight single-season team records under his watch, 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).