First and Goal in Atlanta – Capital of College Football
Atlanta reigns as the capital of college football, and the city’s history with the sport is expansive. On Feb. 20, 1892, Piedmont Park held the first Auburn University vs. University of Georgia football game, now known as the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. John Heisman, namesake of the illustrious Heisman Trophy, coached the 1917 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to a national championship, the first for a Southern team. In 2014, the College Football Hall of Fame relocated to Atlanta as a shrine to the greatest to ever play or coach the game. Atlanta’s football legacy continues with plenty of pigskin action to enjoy.
This year heralded the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a facility designed with fans in mind. The new stadium kicked off the start of the season, hosting to two prime-time games and will host several more before the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship on Jan. 8, 2018. The first college football games played here drew a total of 151,437 fans to Atlanta, including two sellouts for Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee and Florida State vs. Alabama, the latter hosting a record crowd of 76,330 for the kickoff game.
The 26th annual Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship features a matchup between western division champions Auburn University and eastern division champions University of Georgia, set for Dec. 2. Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry rematch will be the first SEC title game played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which hosts the event through 2026. The winning team is expected to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.