Ready for some college football action? Atlanta has you covered with these fabulous fall events.
- COLLEGIATE KICKOFF
This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games feature exciting prime-time match-ups between the Florida State Seminoles and Alabama Crimson Tide Sept. 2, and the Tennessee Volunteers and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Sept. 4. Both match-ups are set for 8 p.m., in what will be the first college football games ever played in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Don’t miss all of the game-day festivities at the nearby Georgia World Congress Center, including the FanZone Presented by Coca-Cola from 3 to 7 p.m. both days -- with interactive games, sponsor attractions, pep rallies, team walks and more -- as well as Tailgate Town Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Monday from 3 to 8 p.m. Also, be sure to check out special fan prices at the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience.
- LOCAL UNIVERSITY ACTION
The Georgia State University (GSU) football program enters its eighth season of play with a new stadium, a new coach and a new attitude. Head coach Shawn Elliott takes the reins of the Panthers, bringing 20 years of experience in winning programs as an assistant coach at South Carolina and Appalachian State. Elliott’s first game at Georgia State also will be the Panthers’ first at Georgia State Stadium, as the former Turner Field has been transformed into the home of GSU football. The Panthers will christen Georgia State Stadium by hosting Tennessee State Aug. 31. The inaugural season in the new venue also features a visit from Conference USA foe Memphis Sept. 30, the annual Homecoming game against Troy Oct. 21 and a Thursday night, nationally televised game against Sun Belt Conference team South Alabama Oct. 26. Georgia State returns quarterback Conner Manning, who led the Sun Belt Conference in passing yards per game, and all-conference receiver Penny Hart. Defensively, the Panthers’ strength is a secondary that features one of the best cornerback tandems in the Sun Belt in senior Chandon Sullivan and junior Jerome Smith. The top play makers among the front seven are junior outside linebacker Michael Shaw and senior defensive end Mackendy Cheridor.
- Meanwhile, head to Bobby Dodd Stadium for a quartet of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets games versus teams that advanced to postseason play last season. Coming up: a “Goldout” game versus Jacksonville State Sept. 9 (with all fans encouraged to wear gold); the Hall of Fame Day game Sept. 23 against Pittsburgh (with the newest class of the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame honored at halftime); a Whiteout game Sept. 30 versus longtime Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina (with all fans requested to wear white); and Homecoming Oct. 21 against Wake Forest.
- IT’S A CELEBRATION
Coming up later, the 2017 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl once again will be televised live on ABC and serve as the opener to the college football bowl season. The postseason bowl game kicks off at noon on Dec. 16 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, pitting the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference against the champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Presented by the ESPN, the bowl game showcases the best of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) tradition and legacy and crowns a HBCU football champion. Don’t miss all of the special activities surrounding the game, including VIP and family events, a fan experience, tailgate festivities and community outreach.
Wendy Bowman writes for Atlanta Now magazine.