Familiar Face vs. First Timer: Duke will be making it’s first-ever trip to the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, while Alabama will be making its record sixth overall appearance. The Crimson Tide boast a perfect 5-0 record in the game and rank first in all-time Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game victories. Alabama is also no stranger to Atlanta boasting a 13-1 record under Saban while playing in the Capital of College Football, including a perfect 3-0 mark in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Conference Clash: This year’s contest will be the 11th ACC vs. SEC matchup in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game’s history. The SEC currently leads the ACC 9-1 in head-to-head Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matchups and holds a 12-2 all-time record in the game, while the ACC is 1-9 all-time.
Neutral-Site Nobility: No team in college football has had as much recent success in opening-season neutral-site contests as the Crimson Tide. In total, Alabama has appeared in five Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games and four other neutral-site games to open the season, going 9-0. In four of Alabama’s last five national championship years, the Crimson Tide opened the season in a neutral-site venue, including two appearances in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (2009 & 2017). Alabama is 89-50-4 all-time in 143 neutral-site contests and is 21-6 at neutral-site venues under Nick Saban.
Devious Devils: Quietly under the radar, Duke has recently been a formidable force in college football. The Blue Devils have been a bowl team six of the past seven seasons and have four seasons with eight or more wins in the last six years. Since the start of the 2013 season, Duke has captured 46 victories, and is tied with Virginia Tech as the fifth-winningest team in the conference during that span. Last season, Duke also had four power five road victories (second only to Clemson in the ACC and tied for third nationally with Alabama) and secured six wins against bowl teams.
Golden Eras: Both Duke and Alabama enter this year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the midst of what could be considered one of the best eras in each program’s history. Duke has made six bowl appearances in the past seven seasons (compared to eight bowl appearances during its 99 seasons prior to 2002) and has its largest win total during a six year period in more than 76 years (1937-42). Meanwhile, Alabama’s 125 wins over the past decade are the most for any FBS school during a 10-year period in the Associated Press poll era (since 1936). The Crimson Tide’s five national championships in the last 10 years are also the most during any decade in school history.
Strength vs. Strength: One of the most intriguing matchups on the field during this year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will feature Alabama’s passing attack against Duke’s stingy secondary. Led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama boasted the sixth-best passing offense (323.6 yards per game) last season and led the nation in passing touchdowns. The Crimson Tide receiving corps is one of the deepest and most talented in the nation as Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy returns along with fellow juniors Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith, to go with sophomore Jaylen Waddle. The dynamic group combined to catch 201 passes for 3,597 yards and 38 touchdowns a season ago. The Blue Devils secondary that finished 36th nationally in pass defense last season (allowing only 199.5 yards per game through the air) returns four starters (safeties Michael Carter II, Dylan Singleton and Marquis Waters, along with cornerback Leonard Johnson) who will look to shut down this dynamic passing offense in what could be one of the best defensive backfields Alabama will face all season.
Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game History