Behind an incredible performance from QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
overcame a 38-17 halftime deficit to defeat Duke, 52-48 in the highestscoring
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl ever.
As that was happening, Stokan and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
tried to get in the mix. That didn’t work out, yet in a way it opened
a window for growth.
“We made a big bid to be a part of the BCS. We did not win one of
the four bowls,” Stokan said. “That didn’t sit well with me. In 2007,
the NCAA added a 12th game to the regular season. We were
thinking, since we didn’t get into the BCS, can we add a second
bowl game? If they’re not going to let us in the BCS, why don’t we
start the BCS at the beginning of the season?”
That was the trigger to Peach Bowl, Inc. creating the Chick-fil-A
Kickoff Game, which began in 2008 with No. 24 Alabama beating
No. 9 Clemson 34-10.
Now the premier matchups don’t just fall in December. Next
season will begin with three games in Mercedes-Benz with
matchups between Florida State vs. West Virginia, Georgia vs.
Virginia, and North Carolina vs. Auburn all spread over the first two
weekends of the campaign. Not to mention there are still several
marquee Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games still looming on the horizon
including Miami vs. Alabama in 2021, Oregon vs. Georgia in 2022
and Clemson vs. Georgia in 2024, among others.
Many other cities have followed the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game model
to open the season, and week one in the sport has transitioned
from almost exclusively featuring less than stellar mismatches
between power houses and smaller schools to now showcasing
several marquee showdowns between some of the most storied
programs in the sport.
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl grew again when college football
transitioned from the BCS to the College Football Playoff system,
and the organization again bid to be part of the process. The
organization won in 2014, joining a six-bowl rotation with the
Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Cotton Bowls, which has come
to be known as the New Year’s Six. Now, every third year, the
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl hosts a College Football Playoff Semifinal.
It surely didn’t hurt the Bowl’s case to be voted into the rotation
that Peach Bowl, Inc. had been the driving force that brought the
College Football Hall of Fame to Atlanta in 2014. What was once
in a cramped spot in South Bend, Indiana was now within walking
distance from Mercedes-Benz Stadium near Centennial Park in a
city that annually hosts some of college football’s biggest games.
Sponsorships from Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A, AT&T, Georgia Power,
Georgia Pacific, Home Depot, Kia, Regions Bank, BB&T and Fifth
Third Bank also helped make the College Football Hall of Fame
Now, those from out of town that travel to see their team play in
Atlanta’s biggest game can revel in the shrine to the sport housed
in the very same city.
Peach Bowl, Inc. has made an impact on how football is consumed,
when it’s played, how the history of it is preserved, and all the
while has grown its game into a welcoming, community staple for
the “Capital of College Football.”
Yet there are still more chapters in the Bowl’s history book to be
written, starting with today’s game.
Just steps away from where the legends of the game are
enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, two of the nation’s
best teams will write their own page in history during this year’s
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as they vie for a coveted spot in this
season’s title game.
It’s a game that will lead into the final page of this 150th
anniversary season, but will also be remembered 150 years from
now as a defining moment in the sport’s history.
Former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher congratulates Alabama head
coach Nick Saban after the Crimson Tide defeated the Seminoles in “The
Greatest Opener of All Time,” 24-7
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