ATLANTA -- Two of college football's last three national champions will meet in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to open the 2017 season.
The 10th installment of the nation's longest-running kickoff game will feature the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida State Seminoles in what will be the first regular-season college game to be played in the Falcons' state-of-the-art new stadium.
The game is set for Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. Exact kick time and television network are yet to be announced.
"With two teams of this caliber, it really is going to be a bowl-game type atmosphere and an epic celebration of college football," said Percy Vaughn, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl chairman.
"These teams represent the best in our sport," said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl, Inc. president and CEO. "The best players, the best coaches, the best fans. It's going to be a memorable start to the season and there is no better place to host this than in Atlanta, the capital of college football."
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game averages more than 66,000 fans for each 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.
Alabama and Florida State have met four times with the Crimson Tide holding a 2-1-1 advantage over the Seminoles. FSU, however, won the most recent game in 2007. The series originally dates back to 1965. This will be Alabama's fifth appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, where the Tide hold a 4-0 record. It will be the first time Florida State has opened the season in Atlanta.
"This game with Florida State fits our scheduling philosophy of playing outstanding opponents in great venues in games that create great exposure for our program," said Bill Battle, Alabama director of athletics. "Of course, it also continues our tremendous relationship with the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game which goes back to the 2008 season opener. This game with the Seminoles will be an excellent start to the 2017 season and we're thrilled to be a part of it."
"This is a great opportunity to open the 2017 season against an outstanding Florida State program," Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said. "Jimbo has done an excellent job there and this will provide a great challenge for our team. Having this game first on the schedule will give our players plenty to look forward to and prepare for in the offseason.
"It's really an honor and a privilege to be a part of this first-class event hosted by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, which has really grown into one of the great traditions in college football. The last four times we've participated in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, it has been a big bowl game atmosphere and I know that will again be the case with these two programs," said Saban.
"The game with Alabama will be one of the highlights of the college football season," Florida State Director of Athletics Stan Wilcox said. "Both schools have significant alumni bases in Atlanta, and we would expect the media coverage of the game to be on par with some of the biggest non-conference games in recent history. The exposure for our university and our athletics program will be invaluable. We look forward to the game and playing in a fantastic venue."
"We are very excited to be opening the 2017 season against Alabama at the new Falcons stadium in Atlanta," Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Scheduling top non-conference opponents is critical in today's day and age. These are two great football programs and there will be a tremendous atmosphere. It's a great matchup for our fans and for college football. We are looking forward to the opportunity."
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.
Past and future Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game match-ups include:
|2008||#9 Clemson vs. #24 Alabama||Alabama, 34-10|
|2009||#5 Alabama vs. #7 Virginia Tech||Alabama, 34-24|
|2010||#16 LSU vs. #18 North Carolina||LSU, 30-24|
|2011||#5 Boise State vs. #19 Georgia||Boise State, 35-21|
|2012||#25 NC State vs. Tennessee||Tennessee, 35-21|
|2012||#14 Clemson vs. #24 Auburn||Clemson, 26-19|
|2013||#1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech||Alabama, 35-10|
|2014||#18 Ole Miss vs. Boise State||Ole Miss, 35-13|
|2014||#2 Alabama vs. West Virginia||Alabama, 33-23|
|2015||Louisville vs. Auburn|
|2016||Georgia vs. North Carolina|
|2017||Alabama vs. Florida State|