By Harold Hughes
A new partnership between the ticket-buying platform BANDWAGON and the travel planning power of Utrip, helps sports fans stay focused on game day, even on the road. Don’t know where to stay or what to do while on your trip? Let us help you find the best hotels, restaurants and entertainment vetted by local travel experts.
During the 2017-2018 season, the planner will offer itineraries for college football away games or neutral-site games played in major cities and right now, we are focusing on several early-season games we feel will be great match-ups.
Week 1: Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech, Monday, September 4, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta
Overview: This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic wraps up with a Labor Day gift to all the hard-working college football fans: a holiday-Monday game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It’s the second game of a weekend-long doubleheader, and marks the return of the two-game format for the first time since 2014. If experience is an advantage, then it’s advantage Tennessee, which is 1-0 in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic games. But it’s also worth noting that, while the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a neutral site, Atlanta isn’t – it’s the nest that the Yellow Jackets call home. Advantage Georgia Tech, which is making its first appearance in the annual series that typically pits teams from the ACC and SEC against each other. This game should be a close one, with an improving Yellow Jacket squad being tagged by some as a dark-horse candidate to win the ACC’s Coastal Division, while Tennessee is predicted to be in the hunt for an SEC East Division title.
Why we love this game: The return of the series. These teams first battled for gridiron glory around the turn of the century – the last century. That first matchup, on Nov. 22, 1902, was also played in Atlanta, where the Vols dealt the home-team Yellow Jackets a 10-6 loss. The two teams have faced off a total of 43 times in the on-and-off series, with the last game being played in 1987. Tennessee won that game also, and leads the series, which stands at 24-17-2. The series is possibly most notable for the 1946 game that not only ended a 35-year hiatus in the series but also pitted Tennessee’s legendary head coach Robert Neyland against his former Volunteer quarterback and then-Georgia Tech head coach, Bobby Dodd. The Vols would also win that game, and now each man’s name graces the stadium at his respective school.
Youth to Spare: Both teams must rely on the talents of young quarterbacks, with Georgia Tech’s Matthew Jordan owning the edge in gameday experience, since he saw playing time in nine games last season. On the other side of the field, Tennessee’s off-season has been marked by a competition for the QB spot between, most notably, backup, Quinten Dormady, and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano. Georgia Tech is also expected to have some new faces on both offensive and defensive lines, while Tennessee must fill some critical skill positions on offense – in addition to QB — if they expect to win in Atlanta – or in the SEC.
Big Numbers and Big Wins in 2016: One the ground, last year’s Volunteer rushers combined for 2,668 yards on 517 carries for an impressive average of 5.2 yards per carry. Tennessee went 9-4 in 2016, including a regular-season win over then-No. 16 Florida and a season-ending win over Nebraska in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. The 2016 Yellow Jackets were an even greater threat on the ground last year, with a total of 3,355 yards on 611 carries, for a 5.5-yards-per-carry average. Like Tennessee, Georgia Tech comes in riding a 9-4 record from last year, including wins over then-No. 14 Virginia Tech and a 33-18 drubbing of Kentucky in the Taxslayer Bowl.
Cheering: Georgia Tech is one of those schools with dueling mascots; in this case, the Ramblin’ Wreck vs. the Yellow Jacket. The Ramblin’ Wreck is cemented in its place in history: It’s not only a gold-and-white 1930 Ford Model A Sports Coupe; “Ramblin’ Wreck” is also one of two Georgia Tech fight songs, along with “Up with the White and Gold.” The “Yellow Jacket” tradition is even older: It dates back to before the turn of the last century, and earned credibility in 1905, when iconic Georgia Tech football coach John Heisman picked the Yellow Jacket name for his football team. Tennessee makes it easier, unless you’re not a fan of good old country music. The Volunteers’ fight song is “Rocky Top,” and the marching band will belt it out relentlessly after every Tennessee score. The name “Volunteers” itself comes from the state’s nickname, “The Volunteer State.”
Activate: Need tickets to the game? Click here to get the best seats in the house. Are you a dedicated fan, following your team cross country to cheer them on? Click here to start planning your trip BANDWAGON style.