The Volunteers were originally set to play BYU in Provo, Utah, as their season opener, but the Cougars are now expected to officially begin play as members of the Big 12 next season, reshuffling their future scheduling.
“Pivoting to play a marquee non-conference opponent in Nashville made sense for multiple reasons,” Tennessee athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “This is a more accessible game for our fanbase. I expect that we will have a much larger contingent of fans in Nashville than would have been able to travel to Utah.”
Tennessee has opened the season at Nissan Stadium — home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans — twice before, both against Group of 5 opponents. Virginia last played there in 2005, defeating Minnesota in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.
Tennessee and Virginia haven’t met on the field since 1991, when the Volunteers toppled the Cavaliers 23-22 in the Sugar Bowl, after Tony Thompson scored with 31 seconds left in the game.
This makes the fifth all-time meeting of the two teams, with the Vols holding a 3-1 edge.
Last week, BYU also canceled its annual game against Utah State for the foreseeable future, nixing contests scheduled from 2023 through 2026 in preparation for Big 12 membership.