Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
It's official -- NC State will play Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff to open the 2012 season.
From the release:
Tennessee and N.C. State are a mere 296 miles apart, but the two programs have met only twice and have not played since 1939. The teams are 1-1 in their two previous meetings.
"This match-up will continue the tradition of creating the Daytona 500 of College Football," said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO. "I fully expect that in 2012 both of these rising programs will be ranked in the top 20."
This regional rivalry game will feature an ACC program with one of the conference's brightest futures under a proven Tom O'Brien against a traditional SEC power led by new head coach Lane Kiffin. The game is expected to air nationally on ESPN Sept. 1, 2012.
"We're very pleased that two great programs in Tennessee and N.C. State will participate in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game," said Dave Brown, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. "Atlanta is the perfect spot to host the first meeting between the teams in over 70 years. A match-up of this caliber is another great way for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to usher in the first week of college football."
Tickets will be split evenly between N.C. State and Tennessee and the game and its surrounding events will be managed by the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
"The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game gives us an excellent chance to showcase the Wolfpack football program against a great team and in front of a national audience," O'Brien said. "N.C. State is proud to represent the Atlantic Coast Conference as we compete against a powerhouse SEC team like Tennessee."
"We are excited to be a part of what should be a great environment to kick off the 2012 season," Kiffin said. "Atlanta is a great sports town and the Georgia Dome has been great for college football. SEC versus ACC match-ups are always intense, and we know Tennessee fans will be there in force to see this one."