The Alabama Crimson Tide will play the Louisville Cardinals in the Camping World Stadium Kickoff during college football’s opening weekend in 2018. The neutral-site season opener is part of an annual series of Camping World Stadium Kickoff games.
The 2018 matchup is the second announced game in a multi-year agreement between Florida Citrus Sports (FCSports) and ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, to host major neutral-site, regular-season college football games in the Camping World Stadium. The Camping World Stadium is already home to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl and Florida Blue Florida Classic games. Neither school has played in the stadium since its near-complete reconstruction a year ago.
“This game continues a trend of big-time events landing in the brand-new Camping World Stadium,” said FCSports President Harold Mills. “Alabama and Louisville is a great matchup to start the 2018 season and yet another reason to become a season ticket member of our organization — to get access to premium seats for games like this.”
“We are thrilled to have the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Louisville Cardinals play in the Camping World Stadium to open the 2018 college football season,” said Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President, ESPN Events. “This game has all the makings to be not only a quality matchup of two great college football programs, but also serve as a wonderful experience for the student-athletes and fans.”
The Tide and Cardinals have met just three times previous, with the most recent tilt coming in 1991 and Alabama leading the all-time series, 2-1.
To date, Alabama has played twice in Orlando, with this being its first neutral-site regular-season game in The City Beautiful. It won the 1995 CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl, 24-7, over Ohio State, and was victorious in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, 49-7 over Michigan State.
“The 2018 game will mark the seventh consecutive neutral-site season opener for the Crimson Tide,” said Director of Athletics Bill Battle. “Neutral-site games have been good for Alabama in national exposure as well as financially under Coach Saban’s leadership. Our first regular-season neutral-site game in Orlando will provide another great matchup of national interest against an excellent Louisville program, but is also a new venue that I believe our fans will enjoy.”
This will be the first neutral-site regular-season game for the Cardinals in Orlando as well. Their lone prior contest at the Camping World Stadium came in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, a 36-9 win over Miami.
“Kicking off the 2018 season with a great opponent like Alabama is a tremendous way to start the season,” said Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich. “We continually want to play highly respected opponents each year, and adding a traditional power like Alabama in the opener will certainly be an outstanding challenge. We have a vision to be the best we can be, and to do that, we have to play the best. We are also thrilled to be headed back to a destination city like Orlando. I know our fan base will respond for this tremendous match-up.”