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Staff photo / Tennessee offensive lineman Trey Smith (73) celebrates running back John Kelly's 2-yard touchdown run in the second overtime of the 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game win over Georgia Tech inside Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Tennessee Volunteers have agreed to put their undefeated record in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matchups on the line.

Tennessee and Syracuse will collide inside Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2025. The pairing will be the first of two between Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference programs on the 2025 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game docket, with South Carolina and Virginia Tech playing later that weekend.

"We're looking forward to having Tennessee back in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and welcoming Syracuse for the first time," Peach Bowl, Inc. CEO and president Gary Stokan said through a release. "Thank you to Dino Babers and John Wildhack of Syracuse, as well as Josh Heupel and Danny White from Tennessee, for making this game possible."

Tennessee is 2-0 in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games, having defeated North Carolina State 35-21 at the Georgia Dome in 2012 and having outlasted Georgia Tech 42-41 at Mercedes-Benz in 2017. Those triumphs, however, would serve as the respective high marks in the final seasons of Derek Dooley in 2012 and Butch Jones five years later.

The triumph over the Yellow Jackets required double overtime and was the second college game in Mercedes-Benz, following Alabama's 24-7 dumping of Florida State two days earlier.

"The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is one of the premier events in all of college football," Heupel said. "Opening a season in Atlanta in a venue of this caliber against an excellent opponent will generate tremendous excitement within our program and among our players. We look forward to a massive turnout from Vol Nation in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2025."

Said White: "I cannot wait for Tennessee fans to take over Atlanta for the weekend and support the Vols against a quality opponent in a venue we hope to frequent as Josh and his staff work to restore our program."

Tennessee and Syracuse have squared off three times, with the Vols 3-0. Their first series victory was an 18-12 triumph in the Gator Bowl following the 1966 season, while the most recent was a 33-9 drubbing at Neyland Stadium that served as the 2001 opener for both teams.

The most memorable matchup of the two programs was Tennessee's 34-33 win in Syracuse's Carrier Dome that opened the 1998 run to the national championship for the Vols. Tennessee prevailed on Jeff Hall's 27-yard field goal, with the winning drive having been extended by a pass-interference call by back judge Lee Dyer.

Dyer, a member of the Baylor School Sports Hall of Fame, was making his debut as an SEC official and has now been an NFL referee for 18 seasons. Former SEC coordinator of officials Bobby Gaston reviewed the play and publicly stated that Dyer made the correct call.

SEC teams have a 13-2 record in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matchups, including a 10-1 mark against ACC teams.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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