KNOXVILLE -- For a few minutes Saturday night inside Neyland Stadium, it was tough to tell which was raining down more rapidly -- water droplets or University of Tennessee football points.
A violent thunderstorm punctuated by frequent lightning delayed the start of the Vols' 2011 season opener against Montana by 93 minutes, pushing back the scheduled 6:07 kickoff to 7:40 p.m.
Scrambling for the shelter of Neyland Stadium's concourses, an orange sea of 94,661 fans avoided danger, but not the sudden downpour.
Once play began, however, it was UT showering the Grizzlies with 21 points in less than 17 minutes to lead 21-0. At halftime, the Big Orange led 28-7.
Unfortunately for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team, it had a far less satisfactory season opener at No. 10 Nebraska. Traveling 885 miles one way to earn a $475,000 payday, the Mocs fell 40-7 after pulling within 23-7 of the Cornhuskers in the third period.
Elsewhere in the Southeast, Alabama looked every bit the Southeastern Conference favorite it was tabbed in the preseason by routing Kent State, 48-7. Auburn recovered an onside kick inside the final three minutes, then scored late to withstand Utah State 42-38. Ole Miss fell 14-13 to Brigham Young, which was a one-point favorite entering the game.
LSU-Oregon, Georgia-Boise State, Vanderbilt-Elon and South Carolina-East Carolina all kicked off late.
Tennessee next plays at 3:30 p.m. Saturday when Cincinnati visits. UT-Chattanooga hosts Jacksonville State at Finley Stadium on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...