The Lance Leipold era of Kansas Football will officially begin under the bright lights of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium a day earlier that previously announced.
Kansas, celebrating 100 years of Memorial Stadium this year, will kick off Labor Day weekend in style by opening its 2021 season on Friday night, Sept. 3 against South Dakota at 7 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 4, but will now be moved up a day so Jayhawk fans can Pack the Booth and support the team as it kicks off the season.
The game against South Dakota will mark the first Friday night home opener for the Jayhawks since a 47-0 win over Washburn to open the 1944 season. It will also be televised on ESPN+.
Additionally, the team’s Week 2 game at Coastal Carolina is also being moved up a day to Friday, Sept. 10 and will be nationally televised on a linear ESPN network. The specific linear channel and time will be announced by ESPN later this month.
“It’s going to be a thrill to open up the season under the lights of Memorial Stadium,” Coach Lance Leipold said. “Since I’ve gotten here, the reception and reaction of our fan base has been nothing short of remarkable. Our fans have shown how eager they are to support this program, and I can’t wait for our team to take the field for the first time together on that Friday night against the University of South Dakota.”
The opener against South Dakota will mark the first Friday night home nonconference game for Kansas in the Big 8/Big 12 era. The Jayhawks last hosted a Friday night nonconference game in 1945 when they beat Washburn 34-0 in the 101st game ever at Memorial Stadium. This year’s game will kick off the 101st season of Memorial Stadium.
“Kicking off the season and Labor Day weekend on a Friday night is exactly the type of excitement we’re looking to generate as we build this football program,” said AD Travis Goff. “I know families have plans for Labor Day weekend, and moving this game up a day will allow our fans the opportunity to start their extended weekend at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. This is the first time in nearly two years that we will be able to be near capacity, and we know the Jayhawk Faithful will want to be together in-person once again.”
“I’m encouraged by our renewal rate and can’t thank our long-term supporters enough for their loyalty,” Goff continued. “And for those great Jayhawks that aren’t renewing season tickets or want to jump on board for the first time, we will be announcing some new and exciting ticket packages in the coming weeks that are geared towards families, young alumni and fans that can only attend for a single game or select dates.”
Kansas last played a Friday home game in 2018 against Texas to close out the season. The Jayhawks are 20-14-2 in Friday night games.
Leipold, who was officially named head coach of Kansas on April 30, takes control of a Jayhawk team that returns 27 true freshmen who saw playing time last season.
The head coach arrives at Kansas after six seasons at Buffalo, including a 30-16 record over the past four seasons. Coach Leipold led the Bulls to three straight bowl games to close out his successful stint there, including its first two bowl victories in program history and its first-ever 10-win season in 2018.
Prior to his time at Buffalo, Leipold became the fastest coach in NCAA history to win 100 games, doing it in 106 games as the head coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater. He won six national championships there and has tallied 17 conference championships in his career.