Just over two weeks ago, A.P. Steadham of ’BAMA Magazine and BamaMag.com broke the news that Alabama and Virginia Tech would play in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. A few days after that, the news was confirmed from Blacksburg and picked up by various Alabama outlets. Now game officials have issued an official announcement.
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.
It will be Alabama’s third appearance in the game after participating in the first two contests in 2008 and 2009.
In 2012 the Crimson Tide won’t do the Chick-fil-A any favors. Bama will also open that 2012 season in a neutral site game playing Michigan in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, a marquee match-up of traditional powers which will overshadow all other games that week.
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 in 2013. 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 Alabama’s 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.
“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 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 the 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 Alabama Coach Nick Saban. “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:
2010, No. 16 LSU, No. 18 North Carolina 24
2009, No. 5 Alabama 34, No. 7 Virginia Tech 24
2008, No. 24 Alabama 34, No. 9 Clemson 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 include:
2011, Boise State vs. Georgia
2012, Tennessee vs. North Carolina State, and Auburn vs. Clemson
2013, Alabama vs. Virginia Tech
2014, Ole Miss vs. Boise State