Atlanta is once again the center of college football’s opening weekend, as crowds of more than 150,000 people head to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium over the Labor Day holiday.
In the first of two Chick-fil-A Kickoff games, on Saturday, Alabama’s Crimson Tide takes on Florida State, while on Labor Day Monday, Georgia Tech tackles the University of Tennessee Volunteers.
Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the Amway preseason Coaches Poll, while Florida State’s Seminoles are ranked No. 3. Tennessee is ranked No. 24, while the Yellow Jackets are unranked.
Organizers say Saturday’s game is the most prolific matchup to start a college football season since 1984, when No. 1 Nebraska played Penn State, ranked No. 4.
“We have two marquee matchups including the Greatest Opener of All Time (GOAT) between No. 3 Florida State and No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, and then the first meeting in 30 years between former rivals in No. 25 Tennessee and Georgia Tech on Monday," said Peach Bowl, Inc. CEO and President Gary Stokan. "I can’t think of a better way to officially kickoff the college football season and open the new stadium than two sold-out games in prime time right here in the epicenter of college football.”
On Thursday, Georgia State University played its first game in the newly christened Georgia State Stadium, a 17-10 loss against Tennessee State. Atlanta is also home to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Saturday’s game is the first college football game ever played in Atlanta’s $1.5-billion new stadium. ESPN's College Gameday will be broadcast from the International Plaza outside the stadium from 8 am to noon.
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This is Alabama’s fifth appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, where the Crimson Tide currently hold a 4-0 record. It will be the first time Florida State has opened the season in Atlanta.
Tennessee and Georgia Tech have met 43 times, with the Volunteers holding a 24-17-2 series lead over the Yellow Jackets.
This will be Tennessee’s second appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, the first a 2012 win over N.C. State. Georgia Tech will be making its first appearance in the game.
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Over its nine-year existence, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has boasted an average attendance of 67,645, higher than the attendance of 35 bowl games last year.
The 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game featuring Georgia vs. North Carolina pulled a total viewership of 3.5 million viewers, bringing the all time total to more than 47.4 million viewers who have tuned in to watch Chick-fil-A Kickoff games.