After the pandemic cut the college football bowl season almost in half last year, a full lineup of 44 postseason games is scheduled for 2021-22.
The Bowl Season schedule was announced Thursday. The bowls will begin on Dec. 17, with Bahamas Bowl kicking off at noon ET and the Cure Bowl in Orlando later in the day.
Two new bowl games are set to be played this season after canceling their scheduled debuts last year. The LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, is slated for Dec. 18 and the Fenway Bowl in Boston is scheduled for Dec. 29. SoFi Stadium will also host Super Bowl 56 next February to conclude the NFL’s season.
The LA Bowl will feature teams from the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences. The Fenway Bowl, at the home of the Boston Red Sox, will match the Atlantic Coast Conference and American Athletic Conference.
The College Football Playoff national championship is scheduled for Jan. 10 in Indianapolis, the first time the title game will be played in the Midwest. The semifinals will be played at the Orange Bowl in South Florida and Cotton Bowl in North Texas on Friday, Dec. 31.
Last year only 26 postseason games were played, including the CFP title game. The pandemic forced some bowls to cancel during the regular season, including the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The Sun Bowl is the second-oldest major college bowl behind the Rose Bowl.
Other games were forced to cancel because there were not enough teams that wanted to participate in the postseason, following an arduous regular season filled with postponements and COVID-19 testing for players and coaches.
Still, others, such as the Music City Bowl, were canceled days before the game was set to be played because COVID-19 issues forced a participating team to withdraw.
“Last year dealt us many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have expectations that stadiums will be operating at full capacity again which will undoubtedly mean a memorable experience for student-athletes, fans, universities and communities,” Nick Carparelli, executive director of Bowl Season, said in a statement. “College football and Bowl Season is back, and we couldn’t be more excited.”
The 44 bowls in 2020-21 includes the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 18, matching the champions of the Southwestern Athletics Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
ESPN is scheduled to televise 40 of the games on its networks. CBS has the broadcast rights to the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 and Fox or FS1 will carry the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on a date still to be determined.
The RedBox Bowl in San Francisco and Tucson Bowl in Arizona do not yet have television partners or dates set.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://APpodcasts.com
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25