Sports Events in Atlanta this Winter
Expect the winter season to heat up with an action-packed lineup of basketball, football and plenty of bowl games.
The Falcons are heading into the latter stretch of what’s been an intriguing first season for new head coach Arthur Smith. With franchise quarterback Matt Ryan forming a successful connection with rookie star tight end Kyle Pitts, there have been plenty of offensive fireworks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The final handful of home games of the 2021 season for the Falcons figure to be just as exciting, which includes a renewal of the NFL’s most intense rivalry. A Week 18 home game against the New Orleans Saints is sure to be a hot ticket and exciting since these two teams always manage to play a close and hard-fought game – such as they did in Week 9, when the Falcons beat the Saints on a last-second field goal from their consistent kicker, Younghoe Koo.
Fresh off the heels of the most exciting playoff run in franchise history, the Atlanta Hawks are right back at it for another high-flying season of NBA action. Superstar point guard Trae Young, power forward John Collins and the rest of the dynamic starting five from that postseason run are all returning, so State Farm Arena will be jumping in more ways than one throughout this season. Meanwhile, the big promotional nights include the Holiday Game against the Orlando Magic on Dec. 22, the annual MLK Day Game on Jan. 7, the Lunar New Year celebration game on Feb. 1 against the Toronto Raptors and then HBCU Night on Feb. 26 against those same Raptors.
The College Scene
Thanksgiving weekend marks the end of the college football regular season and both of Atlanta’s FBS schools will be ending their respective regular seasons at home. On Nov. 27, the Georgia State Panthers will be ending their season at Center Parc Stadium with a Sun Belt Conference tilt against the Troy Trojans, while the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will renew their fiery rivalry with the powerhouse Georgia Bulldogs at historic Bobby Dodd Stadium. Their legendary “clean, old-fashioned hate” has persevered since 1893.
While college football season may be winding down, college basketball will be heating back up. Georgia State basketball will be going into the upcoming season with an experienced and deep roster and looking to return to the NCAA Tournament after narrowly missing out in 2020. Elsewhere, the 2021 ACC Tournament Champions Yellow Jackets are back on the court and will be welcoming in the powerhouses of the Atlantic Coast Conference over 18 home games this season. Whether you choose to catch the Panthers at the GSU Sports Arena or the Yellow Jackets at the McCamish Pavilion (or both at the same time, as they’ll be playing each other on Dec. 21), you can’t go wrong with watching either of these quality basketball programs.
A Bounty of Bowl Games
The college football action doesn’t stop when the regular season does. In fact, it only gets hotter as the weather gets colder as Atlanta will play host to three huge postseason college football games.
The postseason starts on Dec. 4, which is when Atlanta will host (for the 28th year in a row) the 30th-annual SEC Championship game. This game usually has huge implications for the College Football Playoff and also a game that captures the sporting attention of the city every single year. www.secsports.com
Cricket Celebration Bowl
Two weeks later on Dec. 18, Atlanta will play host to the biggest HBCU game of the year as the Cricket Celebration Bowl returns following a year off in 2020. As the name suggests, it’s a celebration of the history and culture of Historically Black Colleges and Universities with a stated mission of giving the participating teams, fans and sponsors “a first-class bowl experience.” The game has also served as the de-facto HBCU national championship, as the champions of the MEAC and the SWAC square off to see who comes away with the trophy.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Finally on Dec. 30, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will play host to its third huge college football game of the month when the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl kicks off. As one of the prestigious New Year’s Six bowl games, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will determine the two teams playing in this game. That ensures that this will be a premium matchup and one of the marquee games of the season. With the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame a short walk away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it’s hard to argue against Atlanta truly being the capital of college football.
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