Georgia Tech will open the 2017 college football season on Monday, Sept. 4, against Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, announced Monday by Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game organizers. The 2017 date will be the first game between the former SEC rivals in 30 years.
The game will be one of the first college games played in the Atlanta 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 NC 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 Athletes. “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 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.”
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.