ATLANTA – Alabama and Virginia Tech, two of the nation’s top college football programs, will open the 2013 college football season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.
The BCS-style season-opening Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game’s tradition for matching two top-ranked teams in the season’s opening weekend is likely to continue. Both teams are expected to be highly ranked, as they were when they last met to open the 2009 season. In its first three years, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has matched teams with national rankings of No. 5, No. 7, No. 9, No. 16, No. 18 and No. 24.
In 2009, the No. 5 Crimson Tide downed the No. 7 Hokies 34-24 in a thrilling Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game using the game as a catalyst to start their national championship run. Visibility from the game also served as a springboard for Mark Ingram’s Heisman Trophy-winning campaign.
“Alabama and Virginia Tech are consistently two of the top teams in the country and there is no question that Nick Saban and Frank Beamer are two of the top coaches in the country,” said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO. “This match-up will be the best kickoff to college football, especially with the grand opening of the new College Football Hall of Fame and the enshrinement ceremonies that weekend.”
The game is expected to air in prime time on either ABC or ESPN. Tickets to the game will be evenly split between the two teams, creating a true neutral-site game.
“This is a great game for our fans and our program to open a season against a prestigious program like the University of Alabama,” said Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech head coach. “What makes it even more attractive is working with all the great people who are associated with the Chick-fil-A Bowl. How we were treated at the event two years ago makes us want to go back and play in this great atmosphere again.”
“Virginia Tech is proud and excited to be invited to play in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Alabama,” said Jim Weaver, Virginia Tech director of athletics. “The Hokie Nation had a wonderful experience when we played Alabama two years ago in the Kickoff Game and will look forward to returning to this outstanding event.”
Alabama leads the all-time series with Virginia Tech 11-1 with their last meeting coming in the 2009 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The teams first met in 1932.
“We’ve had the opportunity to open the season twice before in Atlanta, and the experience has been extremely positive for our team and our fans,” said Nick Saban, Alabama head coach. “The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome is a great venue for college football. It has a bowl game feel, and the staff has done an outstanding job of making it a first-class event. We have a lot of respect for Coach Beamer and the Virginia Tech program, and we look forward to another great game in 2013.”
“We are excited to return to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game where we will face Virginia Tech to open the 2013 season,” said Mal Moore, Alabama director of athletics. “We feel it is an excellent opportunity to face a marquee opponent to get that season underway. It is a definite plus for the Crimson Tide and an opportunity I know our team and our fans will look forward to.”
In the first three Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games, Alabama has donned the game’s Old Leather Helmet Trophy after two of those games. Past games and winners include:
Year: Match-Up: (Winner)
2010: No. 16 LSU vs. No. 18 North Carolina (LSU 30-24)
2009: No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech (Alabama 34-24)
2008: No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 24 Alabama (Alabama 34-10)
This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will feature Boise State and Georgia who will open the 2011 college football season Sept. 3 in Atlanta. Again, both teams are expected to be nationally ranked and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Last season, LSU’s 30-24 win over North Carolina gave the Tigers a boost in the national rankings and started a seven-game winning streak for an eventual 10-2 season that ended with a win in the Cotton Bowl.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will feature two games to open the 2012 season and has other games set through the 2014 season. Future games that will continue the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game’s legacy as the preeminent opening game to the college football season include:
2011: Boise State vs. Georgia
2012: Tennessee vs. NC State
2012: Auburn vs. Clemson
2013: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech
2014: Ole Miss vs. Boise State
Billed as the “Daytona 500 of College Football,” the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matches two top teams in a BCS-style, neutral site game to open the college football season. The game will be hosted in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome by the Chick-fil-A Bowl and broadcast in partnership with ESPN.
For more information, visit Chick-fil-AKickoffGame.com and follow the game on Twitter, @chickfilabowl.
For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).