It was announced Thursday that Auburn will meet Louisville in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, slated for Sept. 5, 2015, in Atlanta. The Tigers played in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game last season, falling to Clemson 26-19.
Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said it was an opportunity too good to pass up.
"We had talked to (Chick-fil-A Bowl and Kickoff Game president) Gary Stokan to bring that to the table," he said. "That's how we got hooked up. They asked us about it and we said, 'You know what, it sounds like a great matchup for Auburn.'"
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is looking forward to the challenge as well.
“It will be a great opportunity for us to play on a national stage to kick off the college football season against a very good Louisville program," he said. "We love playing in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome in front of our fans who live in the area or who can make the short drive to see Auburn play in a first-class event.”
Stokan also was pleased to have the Tigers returning to play in the Georgia Dome once again, especially when it means they will face a Cardinals program on the rise under head coach Charlie Strong. Louisville begins this season No. 9 in the initial Associated Press poll after finishing 11-2 last season, capped by a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida.
“Louisville and Auburn represent two great football brands with incredible fan bases and a tradition of winning,” Stokan said in a release. “The ACC vs. SEC is a tremendous rivalry that has proven to be a recipe for sellouts, high TV ratings and close, competitive games.”
The two teams have met just once. The Tigers won that contest, beating the Cardinals 16-3 in 1974 at Legion Field in Birmingham.
Louisville wasn't the only future opponent Jacobs discussed Thursday, though. Jacobs disclosed that the Tigers will pay their four non-conference foes this season -- Washington State, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic and Western Carolina -- close to $3.8 million. Washington State tops the list, cashing a $1.15 million check for Saturday's game.
The other totals were $1.1 million for Arkansas State, $1 million for Florida Atlantic and $525,000 for Western Carolina.
In 2015, the Tigers will host Jacksonville State. The two originally were scheduled to meet this season, but when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the SEC, Auburn cancelled the game. Jacobs confirmed the two schools agreed to a new contract, meaning Auburn still has to pay Jacksonville State $500,000 for the cancellation of this season's game.
The Tigers' 2014 schedule was released last week, but they are still waiting for the SEC to finalize the 2015 lineup. Because Auburn will begin that season with Louisville, Jacobs mentioned he didn't plan on it being a one-time occurrence.
Expect to see more games against high-quality teams going forward.
"Our philosophy has been and will continue to be, we're going to play that 12th game as a BCS opponent," he said, "and that's what we have with Louisville."