The Georgia Bulldogs and North Carolina Tar Heels will face off for the first time in more than 40 years when the teams meet to open the 2016 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, officials announced Thursday.
The game is scheduled to be played Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Kickoff time has not yet been set.
This will mark the second appearance for both teams in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game – college football's longest-running current neutral-site game series. The Tar Heels last opened their season in Atlanta against LSU in 2010, while the Bulldogs played Boise State in the 2011 edition of the game.
“This will undoubtedly be one of the best games of the 2016 opening weekend and a long-overdue renewal of an old ACC vs. SEC rivalry,” said Gary Stokan, president and CEO of Peach Bowl, Inc. “Both programs have a rich tradition, devoted fan base, top-notch players and elite coaches – all elements of a blockbuster-type game that we can't wait to host.”
Georgia and North Carolina have met 30 times since 1895, the last contest a 7-3 Georgia victory in 1971. Overall, the Bulldogs hold a 16-12-2 advantage over the Tar Heels.
“It's great to have the opportunity to be back in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “It will also be a special time to rekindle a long-ago rivalry with North Carolina, a team we have not played since the Gator Bowl game in December, 1971. Georgia and North Carolina have played 30 times especially through the fifties and sixties and I'm sure it will be a very popular game among fans of both institutions.”
“I know our team, coaches, and fans will be looking forward to playing a quality opponent like North Carolina in Atlanta,” said UGA head coach Mark Richt. “It will be a national stage for a season opener and generate a lot of excitement for fans not only of both schools but college football fans around the country.”
“The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is a wonderful event and an excellent opportunity for our student-athletes to compete on a national stage,” said Bubba Cunningham, UNC athletics director. “It is one of the premier events in college football and Atlanta has always been a popular destination for our fans. It should be an outstanding environment in the Georgia Dome.”
“The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is a tremendous opportunity for our team to kick off the college football season on national television against an outstanding Georgia program,” UNC Head Coach Larry Fedora said. “This is also an exciting opportunity for our fans to travel to Atlanta and watch us play in an electric environment.”
The majority of the tickets will be divided between the two teams, creating a true neutral-site matchup. All tickets will be sold through the university ticket offices.
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.
The 2015 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will feature #25 Louisville against #12 Auburn to open the 2015 college football season Sept. 5.