Tennessee to open 2026 season at home vs. Furman

By Kevin Kelley -

The Tennessee Volunteers will open the 2026 season at home against the Furman Paladins, FBSchedules.com has learned.

Tennessee will host Furman at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2026. Furman was previously scheduled to play at Tennessee on Sept. 19, 2020, but the game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paladins were slated to receive a $500,000 guarantee for the contest, according to the copy of the contract.

Per a copy of an amendment posted to Tennessee’s official athletics website earlier this week, all other terms of the original contract remain unchanged.

Furman Director of Athletics Jason Donnelly revealed the rescheduled matchup one year ago on an edition of Inside Furman Athletics.

“Yeah, that’s happening,” Donnelly said. “I had to double-check and make sure we mentioned the contract, that we got it back. That’s 2026 we’re going to play Tennessee. Certainly very excited about that.

“Looking forward to getting Tennessee on the schedule in 2026, which is a make-up from the COVID year. And they did right by that. They did everything they could to put that together at the time.”

Tennessee now has three non-conference opponents scheduled for the 2026 season. The Volunteers are also slated to visit the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Sept. 12 and host the Western Michigan Broncos on Sept. 19 that season.

Should the SEC keep an eight-game conference schedule format, Tennessee will need one more non-conference opponent in 2026. The league is expected to decide their future scheduling format next week during their annual spring meetings.

Furman is a member of the Southern Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The Paladins also have three other Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) contests on their future schedules — at South Carolina in 2023, at Ole Miss in 2024, and at Clemson in 2025.

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