The game will be broadcast in primetime on ESPN. It will be the second of two games in the 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff series, the nation’s longest-running kickoff game. The first game of the Labor Day weekend doubleheader, featuring Alabama vs. Florida State, will take place two days prior on Sept. 2.
“With Georgia Tech and Tennessee, you’re talking about two powerhouse programs that we expect to be ranked in the top 25 coming in to the game,” said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl, Inc. president and CEO. “We’re looking at a sure sellout and a lot of anticipation for a matchup like this.”
The 2017 college football season openers will be held in the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium, which is currently under construction. The state-of-the-art facility will replace the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game’s past and current home, the Georgia Dome. The New Atlanta Stadium is set to open in time for the beginning of the 2017 football season, making the Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee match up one of the first events ever to be held in the 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's 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.”
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones added, “We are looking forward to and are very excited to open the 2017 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. It will be a great opportunity for our program to play in a new state-of-the-art facility while playing on a national stage. The state of Georgia is very important to us as a recruiting footprint, and that coupled with our alumni base and passionate fans, will make for a very exciting experience.”
Dave Hart, Tennessee vice chancellor and director of athletics, echoed Jones' sentiments. “We are excited to play in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in 2017 as part of the opening weekend of the college football season," Hart said. “That same weekend also marks the opening of the much anticipated new stadium. The chance to play in that venue, in primetime, presents a great opportunity for our players and fans alike."
“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 athletics. “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.”
“This will be the renewing of a long and beloved rivalry that’s been off the board for far too long,” said Percy Vaughn, Peach Bowl, Inc. chairman. “And it’s a great addition to the long-standing ACC vs. SEC rivalry games we have been able to put together.”
The game will mark the first time in 30 years that the Vols and Yellow Jackets have played one another. The two teams last met in 1987, with Tennessee earning a 29-15 victory. Historically, the two teams have faced off a total of 43 times. Tennessee holds a 24-17-2 advantage in the series.
This is Georgia Tech's first invite to play in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The Vols last competed in the event in 2012, earning a 35-21 victory over NC State.
— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers' fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS