Nov 1, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys host Raiders, Bills face Saints on Thanksgiving

Dallas draws the Las Vegas Raiders in the mid-afternoon game on Thanksgiving Day.

The Cowboys’ traditional holiday home date is the middle game following the Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints.

The NFL schedule will be released in full on Wednesday night.

Dallas lost 41-16 to the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving Day in 2020 and enters with a two-game losing streak on Turkey Day. The Bills beat the Cowboys in 2019.

The Bears and Lions are meeting for the third time in four years on Thanksgiving. Chicago won games in Detroit in 2018 and 2019.

–Field Level Media

Apr 24, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady looks on before Alex Oliveira (Red Gloves) fights Randy Brown (Blue Gloves) during UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs-Cowboys opener headlines NFL Week 1

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers open defense of the Lombardi Trophy on Sept. 9 at Raymond James Stadium.

Tampa Bay hosts the Dallas Cowboys in the primetime Thursday night opener at the site of the Bucs’ Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in February.

Quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to return from a season-ending ankle injury and take the field for the first time since signing a four-year, $160 million deal in March.

The full schedule for the 2021 regular season is scheduled to be released Wednesday night.

In Week 1, NBC’s Sunday night game pits the Chicago Bears visiting the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium.

The “Monday Night Football” opener features the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders.

Among the other key games between 2020 contenders is a playoff rematch between the Cleveland Browns and Chiefs.

There will be intrigue involving quarterbacks in the build up of two other games: the Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers versus the New York Jets.

Aaron Rodgers’ future is in question with the Packers and the Saints are without Drew Brees, who retired after last season.

Sam Darnold is the central figure in the Panthers-Jets matchup. Darnold was acquired by Carolina from New York in April.

–Field Level Media

Feb 4, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; NFL football commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a press conference ahead of Super Bowl 55, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.  Mandatory Credit: Perry Knotts/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

NFL to release 2021 schedule May 12

The NFL announced Wednesday it will release the 2021 regular-season schedule on May 12 at 8 p.m. ET.

For the first time, NFL teams will play a 17-game slate, with the additional game being approved by an owners’ vote last month. The 17th game will pit teams against interconference opponents that finished in the same place in their respective divisions. The AFC teams will play host for these games in 2021.

Among these matchups: the Green Bay Packers against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Dallas Cowboys visiting the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams playing the Baltimore Ravens.

Other notable games in 2021 include Tom Brady’s return to New England as an opponent when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Patriots, and the Jacksonville Jaguars playing the New York Jets in a game that will pit the No. 1 and No. 2 overall draft picks against one another.

The schedule release will also reveal which teams will play in prime time on opening night, with Super Bowl LV champion Tampa Bay expected to be the host.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA;  General view of the NFL Shield logo on the field before Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NFL to approve 17-game season this week

NFL owners will approve the expansion of the regular season to 17 games this week, ESPN reported Sunday.

It would be the first expansion of the schedule since moving from 14 games to 16 in 1978.

The change has been expected since the NFL and the National Football League Players Association approved the latest collective bargaining agreement in March 2020.

Owners of the 32 NFL teams are scheduled to hold meetings remotely on Tuesday and Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Sep 8, 2018; Stanford, CA, USA; General overall view of the Pac-12 Conference logo on the field during the game between the Southern California Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC-Stanford to kick off Pac-12 conference play in 2021

The Pac-12 is planning for a return to a traditional football season in 2021, releasing its nine-game conference schedule on Tuesday.

UCLA will kick off the nonconference slate against Hawaii at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 28. The Bruins’ crosstown rival, Southern California, will play host to Stanford in the first conference game of the season on Sept. 11.

USC will play at Washington State on Sept. 18 before the full conference slate of games begins on Sept. 25 in Week 4.

The Pac-12 schedule includes traditional rivalry games over the final two weeks of the season: Washington-Washington State, USC-UCLA, Arizona-Arizona State, Cal-Stanford and Oregon-Oregon State. The conference championship game is scheduled to be played on Dec. 3 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for the first time.

–Field Level Media

Dec 7, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney receives the championship trophy from Commissioner John Swofford in the 2019 ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

ACC returns to normal, Notre Dame independent again in ’21

The Atlantic Coast Conference hopes to restore a sense of normalcy to the 2021 college football season.

The league optimistically released its schedule Thursday, returning to a two-division format (Atlantic and Coastal) with members playing eight ACC games and four non-conference games.

Notre Dame, which played as a full member amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, returns to its traditional independent status and will play five games against ACC opponents.

“The return to a traditional schedule is contingent on national, state and local health guidelines allowing such competition to occur,” the league cautioned in its press release.

The ACC schedule kicks off on Labor Day weekend with games each day from Thursday, Sept. 2, through Monday, Sept. 6.

That includes two neutral site games in Atlanta as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff series. Miami will face defending national champion Alabama on Sept. 4 and Louisville will take on Ole Miss on Sept. 6.

Clemson, winner of six consecutive ACC championships, opens the post-Trevor Lawrence era against Georgia in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on Sept. 4 in Charlotte, N.C.

Notre Dame’s five ACC contests includes three road games: Sept. 5 at Florida State, Oct. 9 at Virginia Tech and Nov. 13 at Virginia. The Fighting Irish will host North Carolina on Oct. 30 and Georgia Tech on Nov. 20.

The 2021 schedule includes 13 playing weekends, giving each school one open date and potential flexibility should interruptions arise.

The ACC Championship Game will take place in Charlotte on Dec. 4.

–Field Level Media

Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Detailed view of the Super Bowl logo on an official Wilson NFL football on the field during the Kansas City Chiefs game against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NFL approves 17-game schedule formula, not 17th game

While it has decided to wait on officially adding a 17th regular-season game to the schedule, the NFL agreed Wednesday on a schedule formula when that extra game would be implemented down the road.

NFL owners gathered on a conference call Wednesday, essentially electing to move talks of an expanded schedule to early 2021. An extra game was agreed upon between the league and the players’ union earlier this year, and that additional contest could come as soon as 2021.

“It obviously comes into play with respect with our future media arrangements that we obviously are contemplating,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We expect a decision will be made on that in the next several weeks.”

The league switched to a 16-game regular-season schedule in 1978 after previously playing 14 regular-season games.

When a 17th game is added, it will be an interconference matchup based on standings from the previous season. The extra opponent will also rotate among divisions. The agreement on the schedule formula was reported by NFL Network.

“We had a lengthy discussion on this,” Goodell said. “Obviously, it’s an important decision for us. We did not take any votes with respect to committing to do it. In the collective bargaining agreement, we have that right to do it.”

ESPN reported that Goddell is in favor of reducing the preseason from four games to two, but that concept received push back from prominent owners like Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

–Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman David Moorman (68) cuts the goal post down with the Paul Bunyan Axe Trophy after defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Rivalry games back on in Big Ten

The Big Ten announced its final week schedule on Sunday, highlighted by Ohio State and Northwestern meeting in the conference championship game and a pair of rivalry games.

The Buckeyes and Wildcats are slated to play on Saturday in the title game at noon ET in Indianapolis.

Following that game, Minnesota and Wisconsin will meet at 4 p.m. ET in Madison, Wis., for the 130th time. The teams, who play for the right to take home the Paul Bunyan Axe, saw their Nov. 28 game canceled because of COVID-19.

“The Minnesota and Wisconsin rivalry is one of the best in sports,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “This game means a tremendous amount to the student-athletes, coaches and fans of both schools. We are excited play and extend this rivalry.

“In a year of constant change, we appreciate the Big Ten, both administrations and each conference member institution for preserving this rivalry.”

Also on the schedule for “Championship Week,” as the conference is calling it, are a pair Friday contests featuring Nebraska at Rutgers and Purdue at Indiana.

The Boilermakers and Hoosiers were supposed to play this weekend, but the Saturday game was canceled amid COVID-19 outbreaks in both programs. The teams have played annually since 1920.

Additionally on Saturday, Michigan will play at Iowa, and Illinois will travel to Penn State. Michigan State will visit Maryland at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Spartans and Terrapins were supposed to play Nov. 21, but the game was called off because of the virus.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA;    USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) throws a complete pass in the first half of the game against the Washington State Cougars at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 schedules title game, readies stand-ins

The Pac-12 announced next weekend’s season-ending football schedule on Sunday — and it includes a 2020 twist.

No. 15 Southern California (5-0) and Washington (3-1) are slated to meet Friday night in the conference championship game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. But since the Huskies couldn’t play their scheduled game against Oregon this weekend because of COVID-19 positives and protocols, the conference is making sure the title game will be played even if the Huskies — or the Trojans, for that matter — don’t have enough players due to the virus.

Just in case, the conference scheduled Pac-12 North runner-up Oregon (3-2) to face Pac-12 South runner-up No. 21 Colorado (4-1) on Saturday at the Coliseum, meaning both teams will be in Los Angeles — just in case either is needed to step up for the title game.

Neither Colorado nor Oregon played their respective division champions as scheduled because of cancellations related to the virus.

The remainder of the weekend schedule pits Washington State at Utah, Stanford at UCLA and Arizona State at Oregon State on Saturday. The league didn’t immediately announce a game time for Arizona at California.

–Field Level Media

Nov 9, 2019; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) drops back to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: SEC to adjust schedule, add LSU-Alabama game

The Southeastern Conference is expected to shuffle the final weeks of the football schedule, making room for the previously postponed game between No. 1 Alabama and defending national champion LSU.

The teams were scheduled to play Nov. 14 in Baton Rouge, La., but the game was called off because the Tigers didn’t have enough players amid a COVID-19 outbreak.

Multiple media outlets reported Friday that the game now will be played on Dec. 5, with a formal announcement by the SEC still to come.

The current schedule calls for Alabama to play at Arkansas and Ole Miss to visit LSU on Dec. 5.

The Crimson Tide and Razorbacks both have open dates on Dec. 12, and that game is expected to be played then.

Other games likely will be added to the schedule on Dec. 12. LSU already is set to play No. 6 Florida, but other teams could fill in the schedule, which was left as an open date.

The conference championship game is slated for Dec. 19 in Atlanta.

In 2019, LSU beat Alabama 46-41 en route to an undefeated season and a College Football Playoff title.

–Field Level Media