MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The 2017 College Football season returns this week with one of the premier games happening in Montgomery at Cramton Bowl.
Jacksonville State will face off against Chattanooga Saturday on ESPN in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff.
This will be a match-up between two FCS powers as Jacksonville State enters ranked No. 5 in the FCS Coaches Poll, while Chattanooga sits at No. 13.
"We are pleased to be part of college football's opening weekend from Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama, with these two outstanding FCS programs," said Pete Davis, senior vice president of ESPN Events. "The greater Montgomery community has been very supportive of the Raycom Media Camelia Bowl since its inception in 2014, so to usher in the 2017 college football season and spotlight this community with their first-class facilities and staffing, is a logical choice."
Jacksonville State finished top of the Ohio Valley Conference a season ago with a 10-2 record. Chattanooga finished as the third-best team in the SOCON at 9-4 behind the Citadel and Wofford.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for our football program and for our University," said Greg Seitz, Athletic Director at Jacksonville State University. "The chance to draw a worldwide audience that will be tuned in to watch Jacksonville State kick off the college football season is one we couldn't pass up. It's a great opportunity to showcase our program and FCS football to a massive audience. This opportunity enhances what we already thought was a great schedule for our fans next year."
"UT CHATTANOOGA is thrilled that ESPN has chosen our football team to play Jacksonville State on national television in Montgomery, Alabama, to kick off the college football season," said David Blackburn, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. "We want to sincerely thank ESPN, Johnny Williams, Executive Director of the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, Greg Seitz, AD at Jacksonville State and the city of Montgomery. We're grateful for the opportunity to showcase UTC and compete against Jacksonville State on the national platform of ESPN."
Jacksonville State touts the defending Ohio Valley Conference defensive player of the year in senior defensive end Darius Jackson. Jackson also found himself on the FCS Buck Buchanan Award watch list. A season ago the Gamecocks finished as the seventh-best rushing offense in the FCS averaging just over 248 yards per game.
Jacksonville State also shows off three preseason FCS All-American first-teamers in senior offensive lineman Justin Lea, senior defensive lineman Darius Jackson and sophomore defensive back Marlon Bridges.
Chattanooga returns talent of their own. Senior quarterback Alejandro Bennifield was a top-25 passer last season, throwing for over 2,600 yards. James Stovall with 373 yards and two touchdowns, returns as the Mocs' third-leading receiver from a year ago.
Kickoff from Cramton Bowl is set for 5:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, visit the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff website.