The FCS Kickoff is an annual college football game played on the Saturday before the opening weekend of the college football season. The game showcases teams from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision; for its first three editions, it rotated to various campus sites, but the 2017 edition was the first to be played at a neutral site, specifically the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The game is televised nationally by ESPN.
In February 2013, ESPN announced that the 2014 college football season would begin at its earliest point in 11 years with the creation of the "FCS Kickoff", an annual game which would showcase two top-level teams from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision. ESPN stated that during meetings with FCS conference commissioners there was an interest in creating a "tentpole type" event around FCS football and to showcase the quality and depth of FCS football to a national audience.
The 2017 edition marked several changes for the event. First, ESPN took ownership of the event through its ESPN Events division. The event was moved to a neutral site (the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama); received a name sponsorship by Guardian Credit Union, a small Montgomery-based credit union; was co-branded as the Montgomery Kickoff Classic; and also took on Alabama FCS member Jacksonville State University as a partner for at least the 2017 and 2018 editions. As such, JSU would participate in both editions of the event.
|Date||Winning team||Losing team||Venue||Attendance|
|August 23, 2014||#1 Eastern Washington Eagles||56||#17 Sam Houston State Bearkats||35||Roos Field (Cheney, WA)||10,310|
|August 29, 2015||#13 Montana Grizzlies||38||#1 North Dakota State Bison||35||Washington–Grizzly Stadium (Missoula, MT)||26,472|
|August 27, 2016||#1 North Dakota State Bison||24||#7 Charleston Southern Buccaneers||17||Fargodome (Fargo, ND)||18,881|
|August 26, 2017||#6 Jacksonville State Gamecocks||27||#12 Chattanooga Mocs||13||Cramton Bowl (Montgomery, AL)||12,952|
Rankings are from the STATS FCS Poll.
|3||North Dakota State||2||1–1||.500||59||55|
|Sam Houston State||1||0–1||.000||35||56|