The Georgia-Clemson football rivalry is coming to Atlanta.
The SEC and ACC powers have agreed to play each other in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the start of the 2024 season, the event’s chief executive told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We think it’s going to be a tremendous blockbuster game,” said Gary Stokan, president and CEO of Peach Bowl Inc., which operates the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff.
Stokan said the contracts for the Georgia-Clemson matchup were signed Thursday afternoon. Both schools’ coaches and athletic directors “thought it was very important to renew the rivalry,” he said.
The game is scheduled for Aug. 31, 2024, in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Georgia and Clemson have played each other 64 times in football, but only four times since 1995. They first met in 1897 and most recently in a home-and-home series in 2013 and 2014. The teams are not scheduled to meet again before the 2024 event.
“The resumption of our storied rivalry with Georgia has been a high priority for us and will continue to be a high priority moving forward,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement.
Both programs reached the four-team College Football Playoff last season, with Clemson losing to Alabama in a semifinal and Georgia losing to Alabama in the championship game.
Clemson played in the national championship games at the end of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, losing the first one to Alabama and beating the Crimson Tide in the second.
Entering this season, Clemson is ranked No. 2 and Georgia No. 3 in the Associated Press poll.
“You’ve got to believe the 2024 game will be between top-five teams, the way Georgia and Clemson are recruiting and performing on the field,” Stokan said.
He said the agreement came after extensive discussions with both schools.
“Give Kirby and Dabo a great deal of credit,” Stokan said, referring to Georgia coach Kirby Smart and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. “They always wanted to get this game done, and so did (Georgia athletic director) Greg McGarity and Dan Radakovich. It was just a matter of what year made sense.”
Stokan said both programs recognize that scheduling tough non-conference opponents “is important for getting into the College Football Playoff.”
“This is another great opportunity, for our team and our fans, to play an outstanding team in an extraordinary city and venue,” Smart said in a statement.
“I've said many times that I think the Clemson-Georgia rivalry is one of the best rivalries in college football," Swinney said. "It's one I watched way before I even came to Clemson. I think it's great for both fan bases.”
The 2024 game will be Georgia’s fifth appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff, following games against Boise State in 2011, North Carolina in 2016, Virginia in 2020 and Oregon in 2022. It will be Clemson’s third appearance in Atlanta’s season-opening event, following games against Alabama in 2008 and Auburn in 2012.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff, which started with the 2008 game, is college football’s longest-running neutral-site season-opening event currently in operation.
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