Georgia and Virginia will meet in a 2020 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, it was announced Wednesday.
The Dawgs-Hoos matchup will be a Labor Day night affair — Sept. 7, 2020, to be exact — with Florida State and West Virginia already set for Sept. 5. The 2020 season will mark the fourth time the Chick-fil-A Kickoff event has doubled up on opening weekend.
“This game will provide another great opportunity to kick off a season in the sports capital of the South on national television and against an opponent with long-standing tradition,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said in a statement. “Like Georgia, Virginia has been playing football for well over 100 years and I’m sure this will be a popular matchup with both fan bases, as well as football fans in general. We are appreciative of the opportunity and look forward to returning to Atlanta for the 2020 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.”
Added Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall: “Having the chance to open the college football season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is a fantastic opportunity for our program. Players love to compete on the largest stage and Atlanta is a great location for our fans to spend the Labor Day weekend. I cannot imagine a better setting to open the season than to face Georgia in what I’m told will be one the nation’s finest stadiums. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has a reputation of being an amazing experience for both teams and we are appreciative of this invitation.”
The 2020 game will be, coincidentally, the 20th all-time meeting between the programs. Georgia holds a 9-7-3 lead and a 2-game winning streak. The pair’s last three meetings have all come in a bowl games; Virginia won the 1995 Peach Bowl, and Georgia won the 1998 Peach Bowl and the 2000 Oahu Bowl.
The game will be Georgia’s third time to participate in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The Bulldogs lost to Boise State in 2011 and beat North Carolina to open this season. The 2020 game, the 17th in Chick-fil-A Kickoff history to that point, will be Virginia’s first such appearance in the event.
Future Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games break out as follows:
2017: Alabama vs. Florida State, Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech (Monday)
2018: Auburn vs. Washington
2019: Alabama vs. Duke
2020: Florida State vs. West Virginia, Georgia vs. Virginia (Monday)
LSU is keeping the tradition of a live tiger mascot alive with the announced addition of Mike VII. The new Mike the Tiger has moved into his new spacious digs and is already having football fans and animal lovers fall in love with him.
The newest addition had to be checked to make sure he was qualified to be released into LSU’s special habitat that has been the home for previous tigers. Mike VII will not be making appearances at Tiger Stadium on game days as has previously been a tradition. Instead, Mike VII will be able to roam a recently updated and renovated tiger habitat in style and root on the Tigers from the comfort of his new home.
Mike VI died of cancer last October.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham made one of the more surprising decisions on Monday. Instead of naming the senior captain as his starting quarterback, Whittingham chose sophomore Tyler Huntley to be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1 against North Dakota.
The decision to go with Huntley means Troy Williams will be reduced to backup duty. Alabama transfer Cooper Bateman will also be sitting down on the depth chart, which is another mild surprise from Salt Lake City.
Williams was Utah’s quarterback last season when the Utes made a push for the Pac-12 South Division before falling just short of the Pac-12 championship game. Williams passed for 2,757 yards and 15 touchdowns. Williams also rushed for 235 yards and five touchdowns for the Utes.
As a freshman, Huntley appeared in six games and attempted just seven passes for 60 total yards. It would seem Huntley has done a lot to impress the coaches to earn the starting nod over an experienced starter and the transfer option. His improvement in the offseason and athleticism are said to be fueling his rise as a quarterback, so we’ll see how that pays off on the field once the games begin.
It goes without saying that coaches will say what coaches say. Suggesting their team is on a mission to score a big win in front of fans clad in the school colors should not be taken for anything more than simply aiming to get a rise out of the fans. Mission accomplished for Florida head coach Jim McElwain, but possible bulletin board material for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Speaking before Florida students over the weekend, McElwain laid it out there by saying his Gators were looking to do one thing against Michigan; win with authority.
“We’re heading to Dallas here in a couple weeks to go beat the heck out of Michigan, and then come back to you guys,” McElwain said, according to SEC Country.
The Gators are opening the college football season next week in Arlington, Texas against the Michigan Wolverines of the Big Ten. Florida will be a bit undermanned with the recent suspension of seven players, including star wide receiver Antonio Callaway. Michigan also won the most recent meeting between the two schools, with Harbaugh’s Wolverines dominating McElwain’s Gators in the Citrus Bowl two seasons ago (41-7).
Michigan will be looking to reestablish its identity with a good amount of roster turnover this season, but the depth hit from the recent suspensions in Gainesville may help give Michigan an edge. Either way, we can only look forward to seeing how Harbaugh potentially responds once this claim from McElwain makes its way to Ann Arbor.
For the fourth time under head coach Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide will begin a college football season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25.
The defending SEC champions received 52 first-place votes from the AP voters, easily pulling away from No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Florida State. Both the Buckeyes and Seminoles received first-place votes, as did No. 4 USC. But none of those schools received more than four first-place votes from the voters. Alabama and Florida State meet in Week 1 next week in Atlanta.
Defending national champion Clemson was left without a first-place vote, but still starts the year highly-ranked at No. 5. They are followed by Penn State, fresh off a Big Ten championship from last season. Defending Pac-12 champion and College Football Playoff participant Washington starts the year at No. 8, one spot behind the defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners with a first-year head coach in Lincoln Riley. Oklahoma travels to Columbus, Ohio to play Ohio State in Week 2. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State round out the top 10 in the preseason AP poll.
The lone Group of Five team in the preseason top 25 is USF, with new head coach Charlie Strong taking over the Bulls. Strong’s new team is ranked No. 19, a few spot s ahead of his old program, the No. 23 Texas Longhorns (now coached by Tom Herman).
The SEC leads the country with six teams appearing in the preseason AP Top 25, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with five ranked teams each. The Big Ten and Pac-12 each have four schools represented. No independent teams appear in the preseason top 25.
And here is the full AP Top 25 preseason poll, with first-place votes noted);
- Alabama (52 first-place votes)
- Ohio State (3)
- Florida State (4)
- USC (2)
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Miami FL
- Kansas State
- Virginia Tech
- West Virginia
- Washington State