For a while, there have been reports that Miami and Alabama were negotiating a season opening game in the Chick-fil-a kickoff for the 2021 season. Those reports became reality today when the game was officially announced.
Miami and Alabama have played several times in the past, with the majority of those games being National Championship games. Now, Alabama is the preeminent program in the CFB world, and Miami is looking to once again ascend to the top of the pack as well.
Here’s the release from the CFA kickoff website:
ATLANTA (Sept. 5, 2017) – For the first time in 28 years, Alabama and Miami will face off on the gridiron in the 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. An exact date, kick time and television network will be finalized at a later date.
The 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will mark the 18th time the Crimson Tide and the Hurricanes have faced each other, but the first meeting since 1993. Alabama holds a 14-3 advantage over Miami all-time. The two teams last met in the 1993 Sugar Bowl to conclude the 1992 season when (2) Alabama handed (1) Miami a 34-13 defeat to win the national championship. That game ended a 29-game Miami winning streak and gave the Crimson Tide its first national championship since 1979.
“It’s truly special when you can create a dream matchup like this featuring two of the biggest brands in college football,” said Peach Bowl, Inc. CEO and President Gary Stokan. “The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has been fortunate enough to attract some of college football’s most decorated programs. This matchup will certainly continue that tradition.”
“With two teams of this caliber playing for the first time in nearly three decades, it really is going to be an electric atmosphere and an epic celebration of college football here in Atlanta,” said Percy Vaughn, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl chairman.
Alabama will be making its record-seventh appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. The Crimson Tide hold a 5-0 record in the event after a 24-7 victory against Florida State in this year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and are set to open the 2019 season in Atlanta against Duke. The Crimson Tide’s 2021 appearance will continue the streak of SEC teams appearing in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game every year since its inaugural season in 2008.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to open another season in Atlanta for the 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Our team and our fans have always enjoyed playing in Atlanta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a fantastic competitive environment,” said Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. “This event always has the feel of a bowl game and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl staff has made it a first-class event. We have a lot of respect for Coach Richt and the Miami program, and we look forward to a great game in 2021.”
“We look forward to returning to Atlanta for what will be Alabama’s seventh appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game,” said Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne. “As we experienced last weekend, the city of Atlanta coupled with the atmosphere of Mercedes-Benz Stadium makes for an incredible bowl-like event for both teams and fans, and we are honored to be a part of it.”
Miami will be making its debut in the 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and will be the ninth ACC team to make such an appearance. The Hurricanes return to Atlanta for the first time on a neutral field since their clash with LSU in the 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
“The University of Miami has a proud football tradition and a history of matching up against the very best,” said Miami Director of Athletics Blake James. “We welcome the opportunity and the challenge in facing Alabama in the 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, and I know that it will be an amazing college football experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans.”
“We are excited to kick off the 2021 season against Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Both teams have great tradition. We are looking forward to the battle,” said Miami Head Coach Mark Richt.
The 2021 matchup will mark the 13th ACC vs. SEC meeting in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game since 2008, with the SEC currently holding a 9-1 advantage over the ACC in those games.
The game averages 68,887 – higher than the attendance of 38 bowl games last year – and has an average total team payout of $5.18 million which is higher than 27 bowl games last year. Television viewership is also traditionally strong with more than 60 million viewers tuning in to the series since its inaugural series in 2008.
The teams will battle for The Old Leather Helmet Trophy, one of college football’s newest rivalry-style icons. Traditionally, winners of The Old Leather Helmet don the helmet on the field after the game, starting with the head coach and then rotating from player to player as the team celebrates its victory.
This is a huge move for Miami, adding yet another marquee team to the future schedule. With LSU (2018), Florida (2019), Michigan State (2020 and 2021), Texas A&M (2022 and 2023) and Notre Dame (2024 and 2025) already on the books for future years, the schedule is already strong and is now even stronger.
And, if you’re looking at the 2021 schedule specifically, it’s setting up to be an elite one for Miami. Here it is:
- Alabama (CFA kickoff - date TBA)
- Appalachian State (9/11 home)
- Michigan State (9/18 home)
- ACC coastal teams: Duke, Pitt, UNC, UVa, VT, GT
- ACC Atlantic teams: FSU (yearly crossover - road), and NC State (rotating crossover - home)
- OPEN slot (likely a FAMU or other lower tier cupcake).
That’s a damn good schedule, you guys.
So there it is, Canes fans. Miami vs Alabama in Atlanta to kickoff the 2021 season. I’ll definitely be there, and I’m sure many of you will be as well.