ATHENS — The Dogs are headed back to Atlanta.
That’s not an SEC East prediction necessarily. Georgia and Virginia have agreed to terms to open the 2020 season by playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Terms were not immediately available.
The Bulldogs opened this past season playing North Carolina in that game and won 33-24.
“We had the interest from Georgia to want to come back after playing this year and setting an attendance record for kickoff games,” said Gary Stokan, president and CEO of Peach Bowl, Inc., which oversees the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. “There’s a lot of competition now for these games. A lot of people are imitating us because scheduling is such a central point for the College Football Playoff now. In the case of Georgia, they wanted to come back to Atlanta. Obviously it’s a big for recruiting and their alumni and donor base.”
The Georgia-Virginia game is actually the second in what will be a doubleheader for the first weekend of the 2020 college football season. It will be played on Sept. 7, a Monday night in what will then be a two-year-old Mercedes-Benz Stadium. FSU and West Virginia will meet in the first game on Saturday, Sept. 5.
“We went to the ACC to do a matchup with Georgia,” Stokan said. “The ACC owns that Monday night prime-time slot. We went to see who was available and Virginia was. (Coach) Bronco Mendenhall is creating some buzz in recruiting and wanted get something going of national notoriety. By 2020 we believe he’ll have a Top 25 program. As always, we expect Georgia to be a Top 10 team.”
Peach Bowl, Inc., and the Chick-fil-A folks have been on quite a roll lately. They set an attendance record with Alabama and Washington meeting in the College Football Playoff semifinals two weeks ago and they’ll host Alabama and FSU for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game this coming September. Many believe those two teams will be ranked 1-2 heading into that game, which will christen the newly-constructed Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Chick-fil-A will also host the 2018 national championship game there next January.
Georgia Tech and Tennessee will also meet in a Monday night matchup in the second game of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff this fall. Auburn-Washington will play in the 2018 kickoff event and Alabama and Duke meet in 2019.
The Bulldogs are coming off an 8-5 season, their first under Kirby Smart. They beat TCU 31-23 in the Liberty Bowl. The Cavaliers went 2-10 this past season, their first under Mendenhall, formerly of BYU.
It will be the Bulldogs third appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. They lost to Boise State to open the 2011 season.
Georgia holds a 9-7-3 series advantage over Virginia, with two of the more memorable meetings have come in previous Chick-fil-A Peach Bowls. Virginia defeated Georgia 34-27 in 1995 and the Bulldogs returned the favor three years later by beating the Cavaliers 35-33 in a thrilling finish in 1998. The teams last met in 2000, with Georgia winning 37-14 in the Oahu Bowl in Honolulu.