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Celebration Bowl gets new dates for 2024


As the college football playoffs continue to expand, the HBCU National Championship game has made a pivot for the 2024 season. The Celebration Bowl has moved from the third to second Saturday in December, and will now be played on Dec. 14 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It will continue to be aired live on ABC.

“The decision to move the Cricket Celebration Bowl to the second Saturday in December is truly a game-changer,” said John T. Grant, executive director. By aligning with the start of the college football bowl season and avoiding the expansion games of the college football playoffs and NFL, the Celebration Bowl has carved its own niche in the bowl season calendar.”

Speculation of the date change began whaen the college football playoffs announced its schedule for the new 12 team format. On the traditional date of the Celebration Bowl, December 21, there are three playoff games scheduled. The games will kick off at 12, 4 and 8 p.m. and without a doubt will capture the majority of the attention of the American sports public.

On top of the new college slate of games, the NFL has two marquee matchups on Dec. 21 as well. Week 16 action will feature defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City hosting a promising Houston Texans team at 1p.m. EST, followed by the iconic Pittsburgh vs Baltimore rivalry at 4:30 p.m. The third Saturday in December is now overly saturated with football at the highest levels, which makes the decision for the HBCU National Championship pivot a wise move.

The Celebration Bowl crowns the HBCU National Champion every year in Atlanta.

But every move has consequences, and it now means an incredibly short turnaround for the SWAC participant. The SWAC Championship game is set in stone as the first Saturday in December because of the Bayou Classic and Turkey Day Classic. So, as it stands now, whoever wins the SWAC Championship Game on Dec. 7, will be playing in Atlanta on Dec. 14 for the HBCU National Championship.

Southern vs Grambling is always on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, with Alabama State’s Turkey Day Classic on Thanksgiving Day. The possibility of all three teams being in the championship game means neither of the teams could play again until the first Saturday in December after their respective Classics.

The MEAC regular season ends on Nov. 23, the week prior to the Bayou Classic and two weeks before the SWAC Championship game.

The Cricket Celebration Bowl will be televised live on ABC for the ninth consecutive time with the traditional noon ET kickoff. The MEAC leads the series 6-2 with the SWAC winning the 2023 contest as Florida A&M defeated Howard 30-26 in a hard-fought contest in Atlanta. The new date and time return the Cricket Celebration Bowl to the official opening game time slot of the college football bowl season.