CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Tens of thousands of fans will pack Uptown Charlotte for the Duke Mayo Classic Saturday. 

The North Carolina Tar Heels will take the South Carolina Gamecocks on neutral ground at Bank of America Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ESPN is kicking off its “College GameDay” season by spotlighting the Battle of the Carolinas. It’s the third time the traveling show has visited the Queen City since 2017 and the first time the show will cover this longstanding rivalry. 

“I think there’s just such a history between the two, the proximity and the fact that they don’t play every year gives it a little extra juice,” GameDay host Rece Davis said. “The ACC, SEC thing is like a third-fourth level sub plot, which is kind of fun with it.” 

“College GameDay” set up shop at Romare Bearden Park to spotlight the big game, offering scenic views of the Charlotte skyline to the nationwide audience. 

“Charlotte has grown to the point that it’s a big-event city, they know how to host big deals, and this is a big deal to start college football,” Davis said.

Analysts from GameDay say the Tar Heels and Gamecocks will be a balanced match full of talent and action. Both teams have highly touted quarterbacks in UNC’s Drake Maye and USC’s Spencer Rattler.

“You know, you got two marquee quarterbacks, and they finished the season completely different,” GameDay analyst Desmond Howard said. 

The Duke Mayo Classic has already sold 60,000 tickets, and the demand is growing. 

“Let’s be honest about what’s going on in college football right now with all this realignment, a lot of traditional battles and rivalries are going to disappear,” Howard said. “So you know, games like this can maybe, hopefully create some new traditions and new rivalries and new battles.”