KICKING OFF COLLEGE FOOTBALL IN ATLANTA
More than a decade ago, spurred by the success of the
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Peach Bowl, Inc. was looking
for other avenues to extend its reach. CEO and President
Gary Stokan saw an opportunity to reinvent the “Kickoff
Classic” model with a greater national scope when the
NCAA added a permanent 12th game to team schedules.
Schools were able to schedule an additional regular season
contest, paving the way for Peach Bowl, Inc. to captivate
the college football audience on opening weekend.
Just like that, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game was born.
“The concept for the Kickoff Game grew out of a strategic
planning session,” Stokan explained. “We were first looking
to stage a second bowl game, but the more we looked at it,
the less appeal that had.”
“We looked at creating an event to celebrate the start
of the season for the whole country, and now have the
nation’s longest-running kickoff game.”
Peach Bowl, Inc. has mastered the kickoff game formula
over the past decade, delivering exciting matchups and the
opportunity for teams to start their season in a bowl-like
atmosphere on a national stage.
“It’s like starting your season with a bowl game. I really
believe it helps you be a better team,” said former Virginia
Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer.
Since its inception in 2008 with its inaugural game between
Clemson and Alabama, the game has hosted teams with
rankings of No. 1 (twice), No. 2, No. 3, No. 5 (twice), No.
6 (twice), No. 7, No. 9 (twice), No. 14, No. 16, No. 18 (three
times), No. 19, No. 22, No. 24 (twice) and No. 25 (three times).
“I think playing in these games in 2008 and 2009 did
as much to kick start our program as anything we ever
did,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “We got a
tremendous amount of exposure. We played Clemson and
Virginia Tech who were ranked teams and we were able
to beat them both. I really think that helped kick start our
program to become what it’s become.”
Always the innovator, Peach Bowl, Inc. is constantly
working to create new, competitive matchups across
conferences. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game returned this
year with the highest-ranked opening weekend matchup,
featuring a top-10 showdown that saw No. 9 Auburn
defeat No. 6 Washington 21-16. This year’s contest was a
matchup of firsts, including the first-ever meeting between
the two programs and the first Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup
in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game history. This year’s game also
represented both Washington and the Pac-12’s first-ever
appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has redefined college football’s
opening weekend by creating a bowl game atmosphere
During the 2018
Game, Auburn Tigers
Stidham completed 26 of
36 passes for 273 yards
and a touchdown to help
lead his team to a victory in
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