The Auburn University Tigers will meet the University of Louisville Cardinals in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to open the 2015 college football season.
The game is scheduled to be played Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game's tradition of hosting blockbuster match-ups to open the college season is expected to continue with Auburn and Louisville.
Auburn is back for its second Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game appearance after facing Clemson in 2012. The Tigers enter the 2013 season under the leadership of first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, who served as Auburn's offensive coordinator from 2009-11, helping the program to the 2010 BCS National Championship. Known for his innovative offensive style, Malzahn tutored Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton in 2010 and oversaw an AU offense that set numerous school records.
Louisville will be making its first appearance in the game. The Cardinals enter the 2013 campaign firmly entrenched in the AP top 25 with a No. 9 national ranking after going 11-2 last season and are expected to have a very successful season this year and beyond under the direction of head coach Charlie Strong. The Cardinals will be representing the ACC in the game after joining the conference in 2014.
"Louisville and Auburn represent two great football brands with incredible fan bases and a tradition of winning," said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO. "The ACC vs. SEC is a tremendous rivalry that has proven to be a recipe for sellouts, high TV ratings and close, competitive games."
Auburn and Louisville have met only one other time on the gridiron dating back to 1974. The Tigers defeated the Cardinals 16-3 at Legion Field in Birmingham.
Tickets to the game will be evenly split between the two teams, creating a true neutral-site game. 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.
"We are really looking forward to playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to open the 2015 season," said Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn. "It will be a great opportunity for us to play on a national stage to kick off the college football season against a very good Louisville program. We love playing in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome in front of our fans who live in the area or who can make the short drive to see Auburn play in a first-class event."
"The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has established itself as one of the best neutral-site games in the country to kick off the college football season, and we can't wait to get back to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome," said Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs. "A match-up with an outstanding program like Louisville will give us a challenging contest to start the 2015 season. We are excited about the chance to return to Atlanta and the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, which has become a first-class event thanks to the vision of Gary Stokan and his staff. With more than 20,000 Auburn alumni in the Atlanta region, it will be a great way to kick off the college football season for Auburn University."
Auburn is 33-9 all-time against teams from the ACC and holds a 4-1 record against the ACC in bowl games, including a 43-24 victory over Virginia in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl. The victory over UVa was Malzahn's last game as Auburn's offensive coordinator before departing to become the head coach at Arkansas State.
Louisville has won three straight games against teams from the SEC going back to 2011, including a victory against Kentucky in each of the last two seasons and a 33-23 win over Florida in last year's AllState Sugar Bowl.
"The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has an outstanding tradition of putting together great match-ups, and facing Auburn in this type of event is great for our program and university," said Louisville Head Coach Charlie Strong. "We look forward to opening the 2015 season against a great SEC opponent like Auburn. I'm very excited for our fans that will get the opportunity to be a part of a great game and an exciting atmosphere. The exposure our football players and our program will get from a match-up like this is tremendous as we continue to build this program, and it is going to be a great experience for our fans."
"We are thrilled to be a part of such an exciting matchup with Auburn," Vice-President/Director of Athletics Tom Jurich said. "It's an outstanding way for our program to open the season and we are honored to be considered to play in this terrific matchup. History has proven that our fans will travel anywhere and I expect us to pack the Georgia Dome for this great event. We had discussions about getting into this game a few times in recent years are excited for this opportunity. We sincerely appreciate the Chick-fil-A Bowl group selecting Louisville for this signature event against a great program like Auburn."
In the game, Auburn and Louisville will battle for The Old Leather Helmet Trophy, one of college football's newest rivalry-style icons. Traditionally, winners of The Old Leather Helmet don the helmet on the field after the game, starting with the head coach and then rotating from player to player as the team celebrates its victory.
Past games and winners of the Old Leather Helmet include:
Year: Match-Up: Winner:
2012 No. 14 Clemson vs. No. 24 Auburn Clemson 26-19
2012 No. 25 NC State vs. Tennessee Tennessee 35-21
2011 No. 5 Boise State vs. No. 19 Georgia Boise State 35-21
2010 No. 16 LSU vs. No. 18 North Carolina LSU 30-24
2009 No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech Alabama 34-24
2008 No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 24 Alabama Alabama 34-10
Future games that will continue the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game's legacy as the preeminent opening game to the college football season include:
2014 Ole Miss vs. Boise State
Alabama vs. West Virginia
2015 Louisville vs. Auburn
The annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matches two top teams in a celebration of college football with a bowl-style, neutral site game to open the season. The game will be hosted in Atlanta's Georgia Dome by the Chick-fil-A Bowl.