ATLANTA, GA. — Georgia Tech and Tennessee are set to cap off college football’s 2017 opening weekend in the coveted prime time slot on Monday night, Sept. 4, in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game organizers confirmed the anticipated matchup today, locking in the first game between the Yellow Jackets and Volunteers in 30 years.
“This will be the renewing of a long and beloved rivalry that’s been off the board for far too long,” said Percy Vaughn, Peach Bowl, Inc. chairman. “And it’s a great addition to the long-standing ACC vs. SEC rivalry games we have been able to put together.”
“With Georgia Tech and Tennessee, you’re talking about two powerhouse programs that we expect to be ranked in the top 25 coming in to the game,” said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl, Inc. president and CEO. “We’re looking at a sure sellout and a lot of anticipation for a matchup like this.”
The game will be one of the first college games played in the Falcons’ state-of-the-art New Atlanta Stadium, set to open earlier that year. The game will kick off in prime time and be nationally telecast on ESPN.
Georgia Tech and Tennessee have met 43 times, with the Volunteers holding a 24-17-2 series lead over the Yellow Jackets. It 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.
“I know our team, coaches and fans are excited for the renewal of this old SEC rivalry. This is a fantastic chance for Georgia Tech to play in prime time and on a national stage,” said Mike Bobinski, Georgia Tech director of athletics. “Being part of the opening college football weekend in the spectacular new Atlanta stadium will be a unique opportunity for Georgia Tech fans and the entire Atlanta community to support the Yellow Jackets and experience this best-in-class facility.”
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to play in one of the first games at the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium,” said Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech head football coach. “Playing an SEC team like Tennessee in the non-conference is important for us and we’re grateful for the opportunity to play them in our backyard.”
“We are excited to play in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in 2017 as part of the opening weekend of the college football season,” said Dave Hart, Tennessee vice chancellor and director of athletics. “That same weekend also marks the opening of the much anticipated new stadium. The chance to play in that venue, in primetime, presents a great opportunity for our players and fans alike.”
“We are looking forward to and are very excited to open the 2017 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta,” said Butch Jones, Tennessee head football coach. “It will be a great opportunity for our program to play in a new state-of-the-art facility while playing on a national stage. The state of Georgia is very important to us in recruiting footprint, and that coupled with our alumni base and passionate fans, will make for a very exciting experience.”
This will mark the third time that the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game — the nation’s longest-running kickoff game — has opened the season hosting two games on the season’s first weekend.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game averages more than 66,000 fans per game — higher than 30 bowl games from last year — and its team payout averages $4.3 million which is higher than 21 bowl games last season. Television viewership is also traditionally strong with more than 40 million viewers tuning in to the series since 2008.
For each game, the majority of the tickets will be divided between the two teams, creating a true neutral-site environment. All tickets will be sold through the university ticket offices.
The teams will battle for The Old Leather Helmet Trophy, one of college football’s iconic rivalry-game trophies. Traditionally, winners of The Old Leather Helmet don the helmet on the field after the game, starting with the head coach and then rotating from player to player as the team celebrates its victory.