Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is an annual college football game played on the opening weekend of the NCAA Division I FBS season in Atlanta, Georgia. The event coincides with Labor Day weekend in the United States. From its inception in 2008 until 2016, the game was held in the Georgia Dome. The Georgia Dome's replacement, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, began hosting the game starting in 2017.
|Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game|
Current logo, used since 2016
|Previous stadiums||Georgia Dome|
|Payout||US$1,900,000 per team|
|Auburn vs. Washington|
|Alabama vs. Duke (August 31)|
Organizers intended for the game to become a national spotlight game, on par with the Kickoff Classic held in the Meadowlands from 1983–2002, and the Disneyland Pigskin Classic in the 1990s. In 2008, ESPN's College Gameday broadcast from Downtown Atlanta, while ESPN corporate sponsors and local Atlanta-based companies featured prominent displays at Fanzones in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.
Payout to each team depends on the amount of revenue gained in excess of the Kickoff's $5.5 million budget. In 2008, Clemson and Alabama were both expected to receive more than $2 million.
Auburn and UCLA were initially slated to play in 2010, but Auburn officials later backed out of the offer. ABC attempted to replace Auburn with Georgia Tech, but the switch prompted UCLA to opt out entirely because the game would essentially be a home game for the Atlanta-based Yellow Jackets, with no scheduled return trip to Los Angeles. Finally, an agreement was reached in which LSU and North Carolina would match up, with the Tigers winning 30-24. The 2010 game also saw the introduction of a trophy awarded to the winner, the Old Leather Helmet.
The 2011 edition was the first Chick-fil-A Kickoff to feature a team that was not a member of the ACC or SEC, the two conferences with tie-ins to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Boise State of the Mountain West Conference, one of the most successful programs from a BCS non-automatic qualifier conference in recent years, defeated Georgia 35–21.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff consisted of two games in 2012. Tennessee defeated NC State 35–21 on Friday night prior to Clemson defeating Auburn 26–19 in the headliner on Saturday. The dual-game idea was first mentioned in the Miami Herald in May 2010, when Gary Stokan, president of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, told the newspaper that there was the possibility of having Alabama face Miami in a rematch of the 1993 Sugar Bowl.
The 2013 edition was a rematch of the 2009 game. Alabama, the two-time defending BCS national champions, once again defeated Virginia Tech, this time by a score of 35–10.
2014 would again feature two games. Ole Miss defeated Boise State 35–13 in a Thursday night game. Alabama would defeat West Virginia 33–23 in the headliner on Saturday afternoon. It marked the first ever meeting between Alabama and West Virginia in any sport.
The 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, which moved back to ESPN, featured North Carolina and Georgia, both making their second appearances in the kickoff series. The Bulldogs defeated the Tar Heels 33–24 in the final edition of the game played the Georgia Dome.
The 2017 event was the third doubleheader in the series. Alabama defeated Florida State on Saturday evening by a score of 24–7, serving as the Saturday Night Football season opener. Tennessee defeated Georgia Tech 42–41 in double overtime on Monday evening. The two games were the first in the series to be played in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Downtown Atlanta.
|Season||Date||Winning team||Losing team||Attendance|
|2008||August 30, 2008||24 Alabama Crimson Tide||34||9 Clemson Tigers||10||70,097|
|2009||September 5, 2009||5 Alabama Crimson Tide||34||7 Virginia Tech Hokies||24||74,954|
|2010||September 4, 2010||21 LSU Tigers||30||18 North Carolina Tar Heels||24||68,919|
|2011||September 3, 2011||5 Boise State Broncos||35||19 Georgia Bulldogs||21||73,614|
|2012||August 31, 2012||Tennessee Volunteers||35||NC State Wolfpack||21||55,529|
|September 1, 2012||14 Clemson Tigers||26||Auburn Tigers||19||75,211|
|2013||August 31, 2013||1 Alabama Crimson Tide||35||Virginia Tech Hokies||10||73,114|
|2014||August 28, 2014||18 Ole Miss Rebels||35||Boise State Broncos||13||32,823|
|August 30, 2014||2 Alabama Crimson Tide||33||West Virginia Mountaineers||23||70,502|
|2015||September 5, 2015||6 Auburn Tigers||31||Louisville Cardinals||24||73,927|
|2016||September 3, 2016||18 Georgia Bulldogs||33||22 North Carolina Tar Heels||24||75,405|
|2017||September 2, 2017||1 Alabama Crimson Tide||24||3 Florida State Seminoles||7||76,330|
|September 4, 2017||25 Tennessee Volunteers||42||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||41 2OT||75,107|
|2018||September 1, 2018||9 Auburn Tigers||21||6 Washington Huskies||16||70,103|
Rankings are from the AP Poll.
- 2019 – Alabama vs Duke (Saturday)
- 2020 – Florida State vs. West Virginia (Saturday, Sept. 5)
- 2020 – Georgia vs. Virginia (Monday, Sept. 7)
- 2020 – North Carolina vs. Auburn (Saturday, Sept. 12)
- 2021 – Alabama vs Miami (Saturday/Monday)
- 2021 – Louisville vs. Ole Miss (Saturday/Monday)
- 2022 – Georgia vs. Oregon (Saturday)
- 2022 – Georgia Tech vs. Clemson (Monday, Sept. 5)
- 2024 – Georgia vs. Clemson
- "'Kickoff' aims for college football spotlight". sportsbusinessjournal.com.
- "Auburn-UCLA game in 2010 nixed". AL.com.
- Nestor. "Auburn A.D. (Jay Jacobs) Is Under Intense Criticism For Ducking UCLA". Bruins Nation.
- "A College Football Celebration". Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Archived from the original on February 20, 2014.
- "College Gridiron 365 – Football Blog – Orlando Sentinel". orlandosentinel.com.
- "LSU Tigers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Box Score". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- "Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Box Score". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
- "Sources: Duke, Alabama to open 2019 college football season in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game". Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- "Sources: FSU, WVU near deal for game in 2020". Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- Butt, Jason (September 19, 2016). "Georgia slated to return to Chick-Fil-A Game in 2020 to face Virginia". The Telegraph. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
- "Carolina To Face Auburn In 2020 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game - University of North Carolina". University of North Carolina. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- Richards, George (September 5, 2017). "Miami Hurricanes to renew football rivalry with Nick Saban and Alabama". Miami Herald. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
- Culpepper, Katie (August 16, 2017). "Report: Louisville, Ole Miss to face off in 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- "GT to Play Annual Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium". February 26, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2019.