Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early look inside Atlanta sports.
The biggest college football game of the season in Atlanta is still to come: the national championship game on Jan. 8. But already, two of the four most watched games of the season have been played here.
The SEC Championship game between Georgia and Auburn on Dec. 2 drew 13.466 million TV viewers across the nation, making it the season’s second most watched game to date, according to figures compiled by SportsBusiness Journal. And the season opener between Alabama and Florida State in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game on Sept. 2 drew 12.335 million viewers, the fourth most of any game so far this season.
Both the SEC Championship and Chick-fil-A Kickoff games were played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the national championship game also will be played.
The most watched college football game so far this season was the Alabama-at-Auburn game Nov. 25, which drew a national TV audience of 13.657 million.
The Big Ten championship game between Ohio State and Wisconsin on Dec. 2 was watched by 12.918 million, ranking between the SEC Championship game and the Alabama-FSU game.
Three games yet to be played will top all of the above in TV viewership: Georgia-Oklahoma and Alabama-Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals on New Year’s Day and the national title game a week later.
READ ON ...
Several players who have faced Oklahoma this season, as Georgia will do in the Rose Bowl, discuss the Sooners’ explosive offense and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. See story here.
Michael Drake, a key executive in the Falcons’ opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is switching teams and venues. But he isn’t going far. See story here.
The move of postponed state-championship football games to high school fields is unanimously unpopular among the teams now forced to play on the road. See story here.