The 2013 football season is still nearly six months away, but Hokies fans can now plan their day accordingly.
ESPN announced that Virginia Tech and Alabama will kick off at 5:30 p.m. in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on Aug. 31.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff is usually a primetime matchup, although this year’s start time was set to avoid conflict with the night’s other two marquee games. Georgia will play at Clemson at 8 p.m. on ABC and LSU and TCU will meet in Dallas at 9 p.m., a game televised by ESPN.
The ACC also announced that North Carolina and South Carolina’s game on Thursday, Aug. 29, will start at 6 p.m. and be televised by ESPN.
It’s the second time Tech and Alabama will meet in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. The Crimson Tide rallied in the fourth quarter to win 34-24 in 2009, jumpstarting its first national championship season under head coach Nick Saban.
Alabama has won three of the last four BCS national titles, including the last two. The Crimson Tide routed Notre Dame 42-14 in Miami in January. Virginia Tech finished last season 7-6.
This is the fourth time in six years the Hokies will open the season at a neutral site. They’ve lost the previous three. In addition to the Alabama loss in 2009, they fell 27-22 to East Carolina in Charlotte, N.C., in 2008, and 33-30 to Boise State in Landover, Md., in 2010.
Alabama has had three other neutral site openers since 2008, winning all three. The Crimson Tide beat Clemson 34-10 in Atlanta in 2008, and Michigan 41-14 in Dallas last season.
Here’s the ESPN/ABC lineup of ACC and SEC games the opening weekend:
|Thu, Aug 29||6 p.m.||North Carolina at South Carolina *||ESPN|
|9:15 p.m.||Ole Miss at Vanderbilt||ESPN|
|Sat, Aug 31||5:30 p.m.||Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (Atlanta)||ESPN|
|8 p.m.||Georgia at Clemson||ABC|
|9 p.m.||Cowboys Classic: TCU vs. LSU||ESPN|