Times set for Alabama, Georgia football openers

Times set for Alabama, Georgia football openers

March 6th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

SEC Southeastern Conference

Reigning national champion Alabama will have a late afternoon kickoff to begin its 2013 season, while Georgia will open in prime time.

It will be a late show for Vanderbilt.

ESPN on Tuesday revealed its schedule for six early-season games involving Southeastern Conference teams, including the Chick-fil-A Kickoff between Alabama and Virginia Tech and the Cowboys Classic pitting LSU and TCU on Aug. 31. The Crimson Tide and Hokies will play at 5:30 on ESPN, marking the first time the Kickoff Classic hasn't started at night, while the Tigers and Horned Frogs will follow at 9 EST.

"Any way you look at it, this is an epic game between two top programs led by two of the best coaches in college football," Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO Gary Stokan said. "Add to that two of the best fan bases in the nation and an unopposed time slot on ESPN, and you have the makings of a battle of heavyweights the country will anticipate all summer long."

ABC's marquee game Aug. 31 will be Georgia's trip to Clemson, which will begin shortly after 8 p.m. This is the only Labor Day weekend matchup of teams that finished in the top 10 of last season's USA Today poll.

ESPN will open its telecast schedule Thursday, Aug. 29, with South Carolina hosting North Carolina at 6 p.m. That matchup was announced previously, but added Tuesday was a 9:15 kickoff on ESPN between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt in Nashville.

VU's Commodores opened last season on a Thursday in Nashville as well, falling 17-13 to South Carolina.

"I am really excited for our team, our university and our city that we are opening the season again on Thursday night," Commodores coach James Franklin said. "At Vanderbilt, there are advantages both academically and athletically with a Thursday opener."

The Crimson Tide will be playing in their third Chick-fil-A Kickoff, having routed Clemson 34-10 in 2008 and topped Virginia Tech 34-24 in '09. Alabama and West Virginia have committed to play in the 2014 matchup inside the Georgia Dome.

Georgia and Clemson have met 62 times, but this will be their first encounter since the Bulldogs rolled to a 30-0 win at Death Valley in 2003.

ESPN also announced Tuesday that the Thursday, Sept. 24, game between Kentucky and Mississippi State in Starkville will be televised at 7:30.