ATLANTA – Chick-fil-A Bowl officials announced what Nick Saban alluded to the other night, that the University of Alabama football team will open the 2014 season against West Virginia in one of two Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games in Atlanta.
It's official: Alabama will face West Virginia for the first time in 2014.
The game is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 30, two days after Ole Miss will face Boise State in the same venue, the Georgia Dome.
It’ll be the fourth time Alabama participates in the equivalent to a season-opening bowl game broadcasted on national television. The Crimson Tide began the 2008 season with a 34-10 victory over Clemson, and opened its national championship march in 2009 with a 34-24 victory against Virginia Tech.
In 2013 it will have a rematch with the Hokies. This season, of course, Alabama will open with a high-profile game against Michigan in Dallas.
“Alabama and West Virginia are consistently among the premier teams in the country and we’re thrilled to be able to host such a high profile game with representatives from the SEC and the Big 12,” Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO Gary Stokan said in a release. “This will be an epic blockbuster-type game the nation will anticipate for a long, long time and will continue our tradition of showcasing two top-ranked teams to open the season on Saturday night.”
Tickets to the game will be evenly split between the two teams, making it a neutral-site venue, although Alabama is obviously a lot closer to Atlanta. All tickets to the game will be sold through the university ticket offices. No tickets will be sold through the Chick-fil-A Bowl office.
“The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is an outstanding event and we look forward to opening the 2014 season in Atlanta,” Saban said. “Gary Stokan and his staff do a great job in hosting this game and the atmosphere in the Georgia Dome has been like a BCS bowl game in our previous experiences there. The exposure for our football players and our program is tremendous and it is a great experience for our fans. This will be the sixth time we have played a non-conference game at a neutral site, and the fourth time at Atlanta.
“I believe that playing an opponent that has the national reputation that West Virginia does, one of the top programs in the country, provides a great challenge for our players and gives us something to look forward to in the offseason. We are privileged at the University of Alabama to be a part of what has become a great tradition in college football with first-class organizations like the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the City of Atlanta.”
Saban, who gave Crimson Caravan attendees a heads up to the pairing on Tuesday, originally hails from the state of West Virginia and still has strong ties there. Unless the teams meet in a bowl game at the end of the next couple of seasons this will be their first meeting on the field.
“We are always happy to have an opportunity to play in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game,” athletic director Mal Moore said. “Playing against West Virginia, such a quality opponent, will be a great way to start the 2014 season. Our team and our fans always enjoy the chance to play in the Georgia Dome.”
Alabama is 10-8-1 all time against teams from the Big 12 with the most recent matchup the victory over Texas in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game.
West Virginia is 24-22-2 all time against teams from the SEC and defeated Georgia to win the 2006 Sugar Bowl the year it was played in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, site of the game with Alabama.
“Playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is a great opportunity for our football program and will be an exciting event for our fans,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Alabama is one of the top teams in college football history, and it will be a tough challenge for us.”
“Playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is yet another great way to showcase our football program on a national stage,” West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck said. “Playing Alabama will match-up two programs with great college football traditions. I have known Nick Saban since my playing days at West Virginia, and I have the utmost respect for him and his program.”