The Chick-fil-A Kickoff game matchup between Georgia Tech and Tennessee in 2017 has finally been made official.
The two teams will play Sept. 4, 2017, on Labor Day night, the second of two college games at the new Falcons stadium that weekend, with Alabama-Florida State on Sept. 2. The Tech-Tennessee game will be broadcast on ESPN, part of the network’s ACC package. A Tech-Tennessee matchup in the kickoff game had been reported as far back as last July.
It will be Tech’s first game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game series, a spot that many Yellow Jackets fans have long sought for their team. It will also be the first Jackets-Volunteers game since 1987. The two teams were longtime SEC rivals and continued to play on a near-annual basis even after Tech left the SEC in 1964.
Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan said that Tech will be allotted 30,000 tickets in the 71,000-seat stadium, with Tennessee receiving a similar distribution. He also said that Tech coaching legend Bobby Dodd will be honored in conjunction with the game, as Dodd also was a star player for the Volunteers. Dodd is one of three people to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and coach, joining Amos Alonzo Stagg and Bowden Wyatt.
“We’re really excited,” Stokan said. “We’ve talked, since (athletic director) Mike Bobinski got to Georgia Tech (in April 2013), about playing in the kickoff game.”
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to play in one of the first games at the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium,” coach Paul Johnson said in a statement. “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.”
With matchups already scheduled at Central Florida (Sept. 16) and Georgia (Nov. 25), the nonconference schedule will be one of the most ambitious among power-conference teams. Tech will need to find a fourth non-conference opponent.
When Tech played Virginia Tech on Labor Day night in 2012, the Jackets turned around and played Presbyterian on a short week the following Saturday. Rather than take an early bye week or play a conference game on short rest, playing an FCS opponent would seem the most favorable option.