Crimson Tide to play Louisville in 2018 season opener in Orlando

Alabama and Louisville will open the 2018 season in Orlando's Citrus Bowl as part of college football's opening weekend.

The announcement was made Thursday. ESPN.com reported on the matchup last Friday. The game will be played Sept. 1 in 2018 and air on ESPN.

"This game continues a trend of big-time events landing in the brand-new Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium," Florida Citrus Sports president Harold Mills said in a statement Thursday. "Alabama and Louisville is a great matchup to start the 2018 season."

Meanwhile, Orlando is expected to host a neutral site season opener annually starting in 2016 with Florida State and Ole Miss.

The Louisville-Alabama contest in 2018 continues a long string of neutral site season openers for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama has played neutral site games in six of Nick Saban's eight seasons, including the past three years (2012 vs. Michigan in Arlington, Texas; 2013 vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta and 2014 vs. West Virginia in Atlanta).

This season, Alabama opens against Wisconsin on Sept. 5 in Arlington. The Crimson Tide also has future neutral site openers in 2016 (vs. USC in Arlington) and 2017 (vs. Florida State in Atlanta).

Louisville also has scheduled future neutral site contests: this season vs. Auburn (Sept. 5 in Atlanta) and 2017 vs. Purdue (in Indianapolis).

Alabama leads the all-time series with Louisville 2-1. However, Louisville won the last meeting 34-7 in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.