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Kickoff Classic (defunct)
StadiumGiants Stadium
LocationEast Rutherford, New Jersey

The Kickoff Classic was a season-opening college football game played at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey from 1983 to 2002.


In 1978, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), which operated and scheduled events at Giants Stadium, decided to host an end-of-season bowl game, called the Garden State Bowl. There were four such bowl games held, but attendance was lower than hoped by the NJSEA due to December weather and less attractive teams.[citation needed] Consequently, NJSEA decided to host a "bowl" game in the beginning of the season instead. This would attract more popular teams and ensure better attendance due to more favorable weather conditions.

The first contest, held on August 29, 1983, was the first regular-season college football game to be played in the month of August.[1] The game featured the defending national champions Penn State Nittany Lions and the pre-season No. 1 ranked team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The game was not carried by any of the networks broadcasting college football at the time; instead, the rights to the game were sold into syndication by Michael Botwinik's Katz Communications, and the game aired on various local stations throughout the country. (One of these stations, Philadelphia's WKBS, signed off for good right after the game, making the inaugural Kickoff Classic the last program the station carried.)

Eventually there would be twenty Kickoff Classics, many of which were carried by ABC Sports nationally. Participation in the Kickoff Classic allowed teams to play a twelve-game regular season. Rule changes by the NCAA regarding season opening 'extra games' brought an end to the series in 2002, as well as similar games, such as the west coast-based Pigskin Classic and the midwest-based Eddie Robinson Classic.

In 2008, a new form of kickoff games were born. While not cut from the same mold, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game held its inaugural game in Atlanta, GA in an effort to direct the nation's attention to one site for the start of the college football season.[2]

Game results

Date Winning Team Losing Team MVP Attendance Television Announcers
August 29, 1983 #1 Nebraska 44 #4 Penn State 6 Turner Gill QB Nebraska 71,123 Katz Sports Curt Gowdy, Lee Corso and Dave Diles
August 27, 1984 #10 Miami (FL) 20 #1 Auburn 18 Bernie Kosar QB Miami (FL) 51,131 Katz Sports Curt Gowdy and Len Dawson
August 29, 1985 #10 BYU 28 Boston College 14 Robbie Bosco QB BYU 51,227 Raycom Sports Merle Harmon and Bud Wilkinson
August 27, 1986 #5 Alabama 16 #9 Ohio State 10 Chris Spielman LB Ohio State 68,296 Raycom Sports Merle Harmon, Steve Davis and Kevin Kiley
August 30, 1987 #17 Tennessee 23 #16 Iowa 22 Reggie Cobb RB Tennessee 54,681 ABC Sports Keith Jackson and Bob Griese
August 27, 1988 #2 Nebraska 23 #10 Texas A&M 14 Steve Taylor QB Nebraska 58,172 Raycom Sports Phil Stone and Dave Rowe
August 31, 1989 #2 Notre Dame 36 Virginia 13 Tony Rice QB Notre Dame 77,323 Raycom Sports Phil Stone and Dave Rowe
August 31, 1990 #9 USC 34 Syracuse 16 Todd Marinovich QB USC 57,293 Raycom Sports Phil Stone and Dave Rowe
August 28, 1991 #7 Penn State 34 #8 Georgia Tech 22 Tony Sacca QB Penn State 77,409 Raycom Sports Tim Brant and Dave Rowe
August 29, 1992 NC State 24 #16 Iowa 14 Terry Jordan QB NC C State 46,251 Raycom Sports Phil Stone and Dave Rowe
August 28, 1993 #1 Florida State 42 Kansas 0 Derrick Brooks LB Florida State 51,734 ABC Sports Keith Jackson and Bob Griese
August 28, 1994 #4 Nebraska 31 #24 West Virginia 0 Tommie Frazier QB Nebraska 58,233 ABC Sports Keith Jackson and Bob Griese
August 27, 1995 #12 Ohio State 38 #22 Boston College 6 Eddie George TB Ohio State 62,711
August 25, 1996 #11 Penn State 24 #7 USC 7 Curtis Enis TB Penn State 77,716 ABC Sports
August 24, 1997 #17 Syracuse 34 #24 Wisconsin 0 Donovan McNabb QB Syracuse 51,185 ABC Sports
August 31, 1998 #2 Florida State 23 #14 Texas A&M 14 Peter Warrick WR Florida State 59,232 ABC Sports
August 29, 1999 #12 Miami (FL) 23 #9 Ohio State 12 Kenny Kelly QB Miami (FL) 73,037 ABC Sports
August 27, 2000 #15 USC 29 #22 Penn State 5 Sultan McCullough TB USC 78,902 ABC Sports
August 26, 2001 #10 Georgia Tech 13 Syracuse 7 Kelly Campbell WR Georgia Tech 41,517 ABC Sports
August 31, 2002 Notre Dame 22 #21 Maryland 0 Nick Setta PK Notre Dame 72,903 ABC Sports

Rankings from AP Poll prior to game. [3]


  1. ^ Two other games involving collegiate teams were played in August beforehand: on August 31, 1894, the University of Chicago defeated the "Chicago Dining Club", 4-0, but contemporary news accounts indicate that this was more of an intra-squad game, with the Maroons' opponents being hand-picked by U of C athletic director Abe Bowers. On August 25, 1944, the March Field squad (one of the military teams that played a collegiate schedule during World War II) lost to the NFL's Washington Redskins, 7-3, in front of 55,000 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This makes the Kickoff Classic the first August matchup between two actual college teams.
  2. ^ "'Kickoff' aims for college football spotlight".
  3. ^ "Football - College Poll Archive - Historical College Football and Basketball Polls and Rankings".