Alabama and USC have struck a deal to open the 2016 season at the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas.

It will mark the first regular season matchup between two of college football's biggest names since 1978 and the first overall since 1985. The two teams have met seven times since 1938 with three of the matchups coming in bowl games.

The game will mark Alabama's fifth consecutive neutral-site showdown with a Power 5 non-conference opponent. It will be the second straight and third overall at AT&T Stadium -- home of the Dallas Cowboys -- as the Crimson Tide will open 2015 against Wisconsin in Arlington. The Crimson Tide played in the fourth Cowboys Classic in 2012 and used it as a launching pad toward its second straight BCS National Championship when it routed Michigan.

The 2016 game, slated for Sept. 3, will take place on the same day Notre Dame faces Texas in Austin.

The financial perks and ability to play in a recruiting hotspot have made neutral-site games popular at major schools like Alabama and USC. Along with the Michigan State series, Alabama recently nixed a home-and-home series with Georgia Tech set for 2019 and 2020.

Alabama received a $4.7 million check when it played Michigan in 2012. Last year's Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game payout netted the Crimson Tide and Virginia Tech roughly $2.5 million apiece. Michigan and Florida will each receive $6 million when they face each other in Arlington in 2017.

The Crimson Tide will follow its 2016 season opener with its home opener against Western Kentucky. Two spots for non-conference games remain open.