It's Atlanta For Alabama, Clemson

By Adam Caparell - January 04, 2008

As officials joked Friday, the Chick-fil-A Bowl missed Clemson so badly four days after their bowl game that they invited the Tigers back to Atlanta.

The Chick-fil-A Bowl, Alabama and Clemson announced this afternoon that the two schools will play a season opening primetime matchup in Atlanta's Georgia Dome Saturday, Aug. 30.

It's an idea that the Chick-fil-A Bowl officials have been kicking around for several years and finally were able to make happen thanks to its close ties with the ACC, SEC (its bowl partners) and Alabama AD Mal Moore.

So Nick Saban's Crimson Tide will take on Tommy Bowden's Tigers in the neutral site game in which Clemson will be the home team and SEC officials will oversee. This will mark the second straight season Alabama will play a neutral site game in a bowl venue. The Tide lost to Florida State this September at the Gator Bowl (technically Jacksonville Municipal Stadium).

For the Chick-fil-A officials, Alabama and Clemson were obvious choices. The two teams have rabid fan bases, the schools are within driving distance of Atlanta and Georgia has become a strong recruiting area for both schools.

In fact, the two schools have 24 players on their roster who hail from Georgia and getting the chance to play on national television, in front of countless recruits and high school coaches alike, is a chance Bowden and Saban are both excited about.

"It's a great opportunity for our football team," Saban said. "For Alabama to play in Atlatnta is certainly something we look forward to.

"I've always been an advocate for games that bring national attention to the program."

Georgia, Chick-fil-A officials were quick to point out, is becoming one of the nation's biggest hotbeds for Division I-A players. Over 136 ACC players and 207 SEC players originally hail from Georgia. Per capita, Georgia is the No. 1 state when it comes to producing Division I-A talent. And in terms of the number of players who earn scholarships yearly, Georgia trails only California, Texas and Florida.

So Labor Day Saturday it's Saban and Bowden, the younger version, for all the nation to see in a game the Shy Guy (that's Saban) hopes ends better than the one against the older Bowden.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 02:23 PM on January 04, 2008

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