Alabama, Louisville will open 2018 season in Orlando

The Alabama Crimson Tide just keep on adding big games to open the season every year. Every season since 2008, excluding 2010 and 2011, the Crimson Tide have opened the season in a neutral site game with a Power 5 Conference opponent. They have played Clemson (2008), Virginia Tech (2009,2012), Michigan (2013), and West Virginia (2014).

The Crimson Tide open 2015 with a game in AT&T Stadium against Wisconsin and will open the next three seasons against big name opponents as well. Next season, they have another AT&T Stadium showdown with USC and then have a battle with Florida State in the new Atlanta Falcons stadium to open 2017.

Thursday morning, the rumors were officially confirmed that the Crimson Tide have added another big opening game for the 2018 season. The Orlando Sentinel announced Thursday morning that a game between the Crimson Tide and the Louisville Cardinals will be happening at the Citrus Bowl in 2018.

This game is part of the effort by the Citrus Bowl to begin a series similar to that of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta and the Cowboys Classic in Arlington. This will be the second game of the Orlando opening series as they already have another ACC/SEC showdown between Ole Miss and Florida State scheduled to open the 2016 season in the newly renovated stadium.

It just seems like the Alabama Crimson Tide are a hot commodity when it comes to big season-opening games. Athletic director Bill Battle feels there is something behind that.

“The 2018 game will mark the seventh consecutive neutral-site season opener for the Crimson Tide,” Battle said. “Neutral-site games have been good for Alabama in national exposure as well as financially under Coach [Nick] 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.”

Louisville has only made one trip to the Citrus Bowl in the past and it was a pretty good one. They played the Miami Hurricanes in the 2013 Russell Athletics Bowl and won 36-9. Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich is more than excited to get this game rolling in three seasons.

“Kicking off the 2018 season with a great opponent like Alabama is a tremendous way to start the season,” Jurich said. “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.”

The Citrus Bowl has been working on renovations for a few years now and 2015 is the first full season with the stadium completely renovated. The $208 million renovation includes improved seating, concessions, and restrooms. The stadium now offers Wi-Fi as well as a new fan deck area with a larger video board.

These renovations have been good enough to land three postseason bowls in the Citrus Bowl. The Orlando stadium hosts the Cure, Russell Athletic and Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus bowls.

Tickets for the 2018 game will go on sale sometime in late 2017.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports