North Alabama, Mercer to play in 2023 FCS Kickoff
The North Alabama Lions and Mercer Bears will play when the 2023 FCS season kicks off, the two schools announced Thursday.
The game will be played in week zero on Saturday, August 26, 2023 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The contest will be televised on one of the ESPN networks and Mercer will be named the home team.
“We’re excited to play the first college football game of the season,” Mercer head coach Drew Cronic said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase our football program and the whole of FCS.”
Under NCAA rules, nationally televised (not internet-only) FCS games can be played during week zero, which is the nickname for games played on the Saturday before Labor Day weekend.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Mercer University and our football program,” said Mercer athletic director Jim Cole. “Working with ESPN and the City of Montgomery to launch the college football season on a national stage is something we couldn’t pass up.”
North Alabama and Mercer met last season in Week 2 in Clarksville, Tennessee. The Bears beat the Lions in that game, 24-16, to extend their overall series lead to 2-0.
“Our staff and players are thrilled to have the opportunity to play on a national stage in Montgomery for the FCS Kickoff game,” said North Alabama head coach Brett Dearmon. “It will help us in many ways as a program for years to come. Facing a first-class opponent will also be a big challenge for us.
The 2023 contest will mark the sixth time the FCS Kickoff has been played at the Cramton Bowl. FCS Kickoff matches from 2014 to 2016 were played on campus.
“Participating in the FCS Kickoff is a showcase opportunity for North Alabama athletics and the university as a whole,” said UNA Director of Athletics Dr. Josh Looney. “Bringing the new Lion football program to the capital of Alabama, while participating in a nationally televised game, provides an incredible platform to showcase the all-new Division I football team and the fastest growing university in the state. We are grateful to Johnny Williams and ESPN for the invitation to kick off our 2023 season in Week 0 and join this exceptional event.
Past FCS Kickoff Results
August 23, 2014 – Eastern Washington 56, Sam Houston State 35 (Cheney, Wash.) August 29, 2015 – Montana 38, North Dakota State 35 (Missoula, Mont.) August 27, 2016 – North Dakota State 24, Charleston Southern 17 (Fargo, ND ) August 26, 2017 – Jacksonville State 27, Chattanooga 13 (Montgomery, Ala.) August 25, 2018 – North Carolina A&T 20, Jacksonville State 17 (Montgomery, Ala.) August 24, 2019 – Youngstown State 45, Samford 22 (Montgomery, Ala.) ) August 29, 2020 – Central Arkansas 24, Austin Peay 17 (Montgomery, Ala.) August 27, 2022 – Jacksonville State 42, Stephen F. Austin 10 (Montgomery, Al.)
Schedules of football matches