June 18, 2009
ATLANTA - The University of Tennessee Volunteers will face the N.C. State University Wolfpack in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to open the 2012 season in the Georgia Dome Chick-fil-A Bowl and ESPN officials announced today.
Tennessee and N.C. State are a mere 296 miles apart, but the two programs have met only twice and have not played since 1939. The teams are 1-1 in their two previous meetings.
"This match-up will continue the tradition of creating the Daytona 500 of College Football," said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO. "I fully expect that in 2012 both of these rising programs will be ranked in the top 20."
This regional rivalry game will feature an ACC program with one of the conference's brightest futures under a proven Tom O'Brien against a traditional SEC power led by new head coach Lane Kiffin. The game is expected to air nationally on ESPN Sept. 1, 2012.
"We're very pleased that two great programs in Tennessee and N.C. State will participate in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game," said Dave Brown, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. "Atlanta is the perfect spot to host the first meeting between the teams in over 70 years. A match-up of this caliber is another great way for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to usher in the first week of college football."
Tickets will be split evenly between N.C. State and Tennessee and the game and its surrounding events will be managed by the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
"The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game gives us an excellent chance to showcase the Wolfpack football program against a great team and in front of a national audience," O'Brien said. "N.C. State is proud to represent the Atlantic Coast Conference as we compete against a powerhouse SEC team like Tennessee."
"We are excited to be a part of what should be a great environment to kick off the 2012 season," Kiffin said. "Atlanta is a great sports town and the Georgia Dome has been great for college football. SEC versus ACC match-ups are always intense, and we know Tennessee fans will be there in force to see this one."
Billed as the "Daytona 500 of college football," the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matches top-tier programs in a BCS-type game on the first Saturday of every season.
The 2009 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game featuring projected pre-season top-10 powers Alabama and Virginia Tech will be played Sept. 5 and will air nationally in prime time on ABC.
Alabama defeated Clemson 34-10 in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, drawing a sold-out crowd of 70,097, and was viewed in more than four million households nationwide. The pre-game fan activities were attended by more than 22,000 fans and the event created an economic impact of $29.1 million for Atlanta and Georgia including $1.2 million in direct tax revenues.
About the Chick-fil-A Bowl:
The Chick-fil-A Bowl is the ninth-oldest bowl game in the country and hosts the longest-running rivalry series between the ACC and SEC. Now in its 42nd year, the Chick-fil-A Bowl has established itself as one of the nation's elite bowl games with a string of 12 consecutive sellouts and has earned a reputation as one of the most competitive bowls in the nation. Ten of the last 17 games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Chick-fil-A Bowl has disbursed more than $90 million in team payouts over its 41-year history and has increased team payout every year since 1996. The Bowl also leads all other bowl games in charitable and scholarship contributions, giving more than $1.2 million to organizations in need in 2008 alone. Other events under the Chick-fil-A Bowl brand include the Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge head coach and celebrity golf event each April and the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game season-opening game over Labor Day weekend which will host two top-10 teams, Alabama and Virginia Tech, to open the 2009 season Sept. 5.