SEC football schedule release features return of nonconference games, three Power 5 matchups on Sept. 4

play
Prolific offenses set to meet with Bama-Florida Week 3 (0:47)

The SEC Now crew breaks down the potential magnitude of Alabama heading to The Swamp in Week 3. (0:47)

The SEC football schedule release on Wednesday featured the return of nonconference games and an opening-day slate on Sept. 4 that includes Power 5 matchups LSU at UCLA, Georgia vs. Clemson (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Miami vs. Alabama (Atlanta).

Louisville and Ole Miss will play each other on Sept. 6, Labor Day, in Atlanta.

Texas A&M, which narrowly missed making the College Football Playoff last season, will travel to Colorado in Week 2, re-creating a matchup of former Big 12 programs. The game will be played at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver.

Other Power 5 nonconference games that weekend include Texas at Arkansas, NC State at Mississippi State and Pittsburgh at Tennessee.

Auburn, which will be led by new coach Bryan Harsin, will play at Penn State in Week 3.

Defending champion Alabama will begin conference play that Saturday with a trip to Florida, setting up a rematch of last season's SEC championship game, which the Crimson Tide won 52-46.

"We are proud to have completed the 2020 football season under unique circumstances and will now focus on playing the 2021 football season as scheduled," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. "Circumstances around the COVID-19 virus will continue to guide our decision-making should any adjustments need to be made."

The SEC canceled all nonconference games last season amid the pandemic, with each team playing a 10-game regular season against league opponents.

The 2021 schedule also will feature two homecoming trips for head coaches.

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin will return to Tennessee for the first time as a head coach when the Rebels play the Volunteers on Oct. 16. Kiffin spent just one season as head coach at Tennessee in 2009 before leaving for USC, prompting an uproar from students in Knoxville.

Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze will return to his old stomping grounds when Liberty travels to Ole Miss on Nov. 6. Freeze spent five seasons as head coach at Ole Miss before resigning in 2017 after school officials found a pattern that included phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service. Freeze took over the Liberty program in 2019 and has gone 18-6 in two seasons.

Other highlights from the SEC's schedule release include:

  • New South Carolina coach Shane Beamer will make his debut against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 4.

  • Vanderbilt and Stanford will begin a four-game series on Sept. 18 in Nashville.

  • Auburn-Georgia, an annual cross-divisional game known as the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, will be played in Auburn on Oct. 9.

  • The SEC championship game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Dec. 4.