A battle of two Tigers was set today when Chick-fil-A Bowl officials announced an Auburn vs. Clemson match-up in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to start the 2012 season. The announcement was made in Auburn, Ala. prior to tonight’s regular-season game between the two teams.
The Auburn-Clemson Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will be paired with the previously scheduled match-up between Tennessee and NC State also set for 2012, creating a season-opening doubleheader in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Specific dates and times for the two games have not yet been determined.
The game is expected to air nationally in prime time on ESPN or ABC. This will mark the first time the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game plans to host two season-opening, neutral-site games in the same year.
“We just added a lot more thunder to The Daytona 500 of College Football,” said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO. “Hosting a two-game weekend of college football on a national stage will create a kickoff experience that’s never been seen before.”
Tickets will be split evenly between Auburn and Clemson. The game and its surrounding events will be managed by the Chick-fil-A Bowl in partnership with ESPN.
Auburn leads the all-time series between the two teams 33-11-2, but the pair of Tigers has met only twice since 1971 – excluding today – with both meetings coming in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“We are very excited to be kicking off the 2012 season against Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game,” said Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik. “It is an honor to be playing in it and a chance for us, once again, to show Auburn to the nation. Atlanta is a very short drive for many of our fans, and we look forward to having many Auburn Tigers in attendance.”
“This is a great opportunity for Auburn to play a high-profile game in an outstanding venue at the Georgia Dome,” Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said. “Atlanta is home to thousands of Auburn alumni, and it’s an easy drive for the Auburn family. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is a first-class event, and we are excited about our student-athletes getting the chance to play Clemson. Of course, our goal is to get to Atlanta at the end of the season, and having the chance to open there will be an advantage for our football team. Scheduling this game in 2012 allowed us to keep our commitments in terms of existing contracts while also meeting our goal of scheduling a high-quality BCS non-conference opponent in addition to our schedule of eight Southeastern Conference games. This is a win-win for Auburn and for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.”
“This is a great game for both conferences and is a game both our fan bases will be very excited about all summer,” said Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “Playing such a strong opponent in the opener will bring a sense of urgency to our preseason practices. There won’t be much room for error. We are honored to be a part of this game.”
“Playing Auburn in this game that kicks off the college season in Atlanta is a great showcase for our program and our university,” said Dr. Terry Don Phillips, Clemson athletic director. “We’re pleased that we will have this opportunity once again. It is rapidly becoming one of the great college football events of each season.”
Billed as the “Daytona 500 of College Football,” the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matches top-tier programs in a BCS-style game to open every season.
The 2010 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game featured two top-20 teams, LSU and North Carolina, on Sept. 4. LSU held off UNC to win 30-24 in a game that came down to the final play. The game aired nationally on ABC and earned the highest ratings of opening weekend.
Alabama’s victories in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game over Clemson in 2008 and Virginia Tech in 2009 helped the Crimson Tide soar to No. 1 in the national polls, win a national championship and helped earn Mark Ingram the Heisman Trophy.
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 43rd 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 42-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 2009 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.