By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl matchup against UCF is the second of three straight Auburn games in “the capital of college football,” as Gary Stokan refers to Atlanta.
“To have No. 7 against No. 12 is going to be a key way to start the year,” said Stokan, president and CEO of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. “And a week later with the national championship game. And then next year, to begin the season with Auburn, who I think is going to be top five, against Washington, which is another New Year’s Six team.”
Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs formally accepted Stokan’s invitation Wednesday at Auburn’s Athletics Complex.
“We really appreciate the College Football Playoff committee recognizing the success of our football team, for the second year in a row, putting us in a CFP bowl,” said Jacobs, congratulating coach Gus Malzahn and Auburn’s seniors on their SEC Western Division championship season. “We played two No. 1 teams, now we’re getting a chance to play another undefeated team, so I know the guys will be excited about that.”
No. 7 Auburn (10-3, 7-1) plays No. 12 UCF (12-0, 8-0) on Jan. 1 at 11:30 a.m. CT on ESPN at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Anytime you can have Auburn playing in a college football game in Atlanta, their fans are great,” Stokan said. “They always support Auburn. To work with Gus Malzahn and Jay Jacobs, two guys I really admire, who do it first class.
“To have a team that’s ranked seventh, as good as Auburn is. They could very easily be in the playoff. To have them play for their eleventh win, and having them play an undefeated team, that’s a pretty good matchup.”
Stokan compared UCF, the Group of 5 representative from the American Athletic Conference, to Cinderella.
“Cinderella gets her chance to dance in our game this year, undefeated,” Stokan said. “So it’s a beautiful Cinderella that will get the opportunity to play against Auburn, one of the traditional, historic programs. That in itself lends itself to good TV and people to want to come see it.
“Then you add on top of that, two great quarterbacks, the No. 1 scoring offense, against a top 10 scoring defense, that’s a great matchup for us in Atlanta.”
Eight months after the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Auburn will return to Atlanta to play Washington on Sept. 1 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
Three Tigers will join Malzahn in July in Atlanta for SEC Media Days. And if Auburn can repeat as SEC West champs in 2018, the Tigers will end the season where it begins, in the capital of college football.
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Ticket Information
Join Coach Malzahn and the seventh ranked Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium as they play tenth ranked and undefeated UCF in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Monday, January 1. Tickets are available online at AUBTIX.com or by phone at (855) 282-2010.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer