Jacksonville State will face Kennesaw State in the first football game at SunTrust Park in 2018, the start of a two-game series with the Owls that will also bring them to Burgess-Snow Field.
The Gamecocks and Owls will meet on the gridiron for the first time on Nov. 18, the final weekend of the 2018 season, at SunTrust Park, the $622 million home of the Atlanta Braves that opened in April of 2017. The Braves and KSU made the announcement on Friday in a press conference at the 41,149-seat facility.
"We are very excited about this partnership with Kennesaw State," JSU Athletics Director Greg Seitz said. "JSU is thrilled to have the opportunity to play in Sun Trust Park and the opportunity to host KSU at Burgess-Snow Field in the future. This is a series that will greatly benefit both fan bases and hopefully will spawn what can be a great rivalry between our two programs."
(Hear from JSU Head Coach John Grass in the featured video)
That possible rivalry will see at least one game in Jacksonville, with KSU agreeing to return the game at a later date that has not been set. The Owls are members of the Big South Conference, where they began play in 2015 after starting their football program in 2014.
"This is a great opportunity for our program," JSU head coach John Grass said. It is a different venue and that will make it even more exciting for both teams and our fans. It is going to be a great place to play a game, and we appreciate the Braves allowing us to make this happen. It should be an awesome atmosphere."
The game at SunTrust Park will serve as KSU's home game in the series with Jacksonville State but will also be the first non-baseball game played in the facility. It gives the Gamecocks a game in Atlanta for the second-straight season after they face Georgia Tech on Sept. 9 of this season.
"To be able to play in the first football game in Sun Trust Park is a win-win for Jacksonville State," Seitz added. "Not only do we have a great fan and alumni presence in Atlanta, but it is an easy trip for our fans. We can't wait to showcase our football program and the Marching Southerners in one of the premiere athletic facilities in the country."
The game will wrap up the 2018 regular season and will come during JSU's scheduled off-week in Ohio Valley Conference play. SunTrust Park's baseball playing surface will be converted to a football field with the field running from home plate to left field.
JSU has become more familiar with the Big South of late, playing a home-and-home series with Liberty that started with a trip to Lynchburg, Va., in 2016 and will wrap up with the Gamecocks' 2017 home opener against the Flames on Sept. 23.
The Gamecocks have played four games in Atlanta since making the move to Division I in 1993. They have defeated Georgia State in the Georgia Dome twice (2010 and 2013), while dropping games at Georgia Tech in 2008 and 2009.
JSU has enjoyed unprecedented success in the Ohio Valley Conference during head coach John Grass' three seasons at the helm. Unbeaten in league play over the past three years, Grass is off to the second-best start to a career in FCS history and is the first coach to win three-straight outright Roy Kidd OVC Coach of the Year honors.
JSU enters the 2017 season with the longest conference win streak in the nation of 24 games. The Gamecocks' last loss in league play came in 2013 and started what is the second-longest OVC streak in history. The current streak trails Eastern Kentucky's OVC record 26-game streak from 1992-95.
(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information: www.jsugamecocksports.com)