Celebration Bowl

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Celebration Bowl
Cricket Celebration Bowl
Cricket Celebration Bowl.jpg
StadiumMercedes-Benz Stadium
LocationAtlanta, Georgia
Previous stadiumsGeorgia Dome (2015–16)
Conference tie-insMEAC, SWAC
PayoutUS$2 million
($1M Per conference)
Preceded byHeritage Bowl (1991–99)
Pelican Bowl (1972, 1974–75)
Air Force Reserve (2015–2016, 2018)[1][2]
Cricket Wireless (2020-present)
2019 matchup
North Carolina A&T vs. Alcorn State
(North Carolina A&T, 64–44)
2020 matchup
Cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

The Celebration Bowl is a postseason college football bowl game, first played in the 2015 season, contested between the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) — the two prominent conferences of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in NCAA Division I. It serves as the de facto national championship of black college football.[3][a] The game is held annually on the third weekend of December. Starting with the December 2017 game, it is played at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium; the first two games were played at the Georgia Dome. It is currently the only active bowl game to feature teams from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).[4]


The Celebration Bowl is a successor to two previous bowl games between the MEAC and SWAC, the Pelican Bowl and Heritage Bowl.[5][6] Because the Celebration Bowl takes place during the FCS playoff tournament, neither the SWAC nor the MEAC can send their champion to the tournament. At the time the Celebration Bowl was inaugurated, the SWAC's regular season already extended too late into the year for its champion to enter the FCS playoffs, while the MEAC dropped its automatic bid to the FCS playoffs in order to send its champion to the Celebration Bowl.[5]

The game is organized by ESPN Events,[7] which also runs the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, the annual interconference game between the two conferences, held over Labor Day weekend in Orlando, Florida.[8] The Celebration Bowl was sponsored by the Air Force Reserve for three playings: 2015, 2016, and 2018.[1][2] On December 9, 2020 Cricket Wireless signed on as title sponsor of the game which would be called the Cricket Celebration Bowl.[9]

In June 2017, the SWAC announced that it would discontinue the SWAC Championship Game following the 2017 playing, resulting in the SWAC regular season champion automatically qualifying for the Celebration Bowl.[10] However, in June 2018,[11] the SWAC reversed course and continues to hold its championship game, with the winner advancing to the Celebration Bowl.[12]

Due to the MEAC cancelling all fall athletics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the SWAC following suit postponing its football season to spring 2021, it was announced that the 2020 Celebration Bowl had been cancelled.[13]

Game results[edit]

Date MEAC Team SWAC Team Attendance Series Notes
December 19, 2015 North Carolina A&T Aggies 41 Alcorn State Braves 34 35,528[14] MEAC, 1–0 notes
December 17, 2016 North Carolina Central Eagles 9 Grambling State Tigers 10 31,096[15] tied, 1–1 notes
December 16, 2017 North Carolina A&T Aggies 21 Grambling State Tigers 14 25,873[16] MEAC, 2–1 notes
December 15, 2018 North Carolina A&T Aggies 24 Alcorn State Braves 22 31,672[17] MEAC, 3–1 notes
December 21, 2019 North Carolina A&T Aggies 64 Alcorn State Braves 44 32,968 MEAC, 4–1 notes
2020 Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic [18]


Tarik Cohen was the Offensive MVP of the 2015 game.

Two MVPs are selected for each game; one an offensive player, the other a defensive player.[19]

Game MVPs Position Team
2015 Tarik Cohen RB North Carolina A&T
Denzel Jones LB
2016 Martez Carter RB Grambling State
Jameel Jackson DB
2017 Marquell Cartwright RB North Carolina A&T
Franklin "Mac" McCain III CB
2018 Lamar Raynard QB North Carolina A&T
Richie Kittle DB
2019[20] Kylil Carter QB North Carolina A&T
Jacob Roberts LB

Most appearances[edit]

Through December 2019, there have been 5 games (10 total appearances).

Rank Appearances Team Wins Losses Pct. Years
1 4 North Carolina A&T 4 0 1.000 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
2 3 Alcorn State 0 3 .000 2015, 2018, 2019
3 2 Grambling State 1 1 .500 2016, 2017
4 1 North Carolina Central 0 1 .000 2016


Television and radio coverage of the bowl has included play-by-play announcers, color commentators, and sideline reporters.


Date Network Play-by-play Color commentary Sideline reporter
2015 ABC[21] Mark Neely Jay Walker Tiffany Greene
2016 ABC[22] Mark Neely Jay Walker Tiffany Greene
2017 ABC Mark Neely Jay Walker Tiffany Greene
2018 ABC Mark Jones Dusty Dvoracek & Jay Walker Molly McGrath & Roddy Jones
2019 ABC Mark Jones Dusty Dvoracek & Jay Walker Tiffany Greene & Roddy Jones


Date Network Play-by-play Color commentary Sideline reporter
2015 RedVoice, LLC Sam Crenshaw Hugh Douglas
2016 RedVoice, LLC Sam Crenshaw Hugh Douglas Lericia Harris
2017 Gameday Radio Sam Crenshaw Randy McMichael Lericia Harris
2018 Gameday Radio Andy Demetra Randy McMichael Lericia Harris
2019 Bowlday Radio Travis Jones Randy McMichael Tenrita Batiste

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Not all HBCUs in FCS are members of MEAC and SWAC—see discussion at Black college football national championship#Celebration Bowl.


  1. ^ a b Mark W. Wright (July 19, 2017). "SWAC bets big on the Celebration Bowl: League drops its own championship to focus on the money and TV exposure of the HBCU title contest". theundefeated.com. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Anna Negron (October 9, 2018). "Air Force Reserve Renews Its Title Sponsorship of the Celebration Bowl". espnmediazone.com. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  3. ^ Hunt, Donald (March 31, 2015). "HBCU greats laud the Celebration Bowl". ESPN. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  4. ^ Chiusano, Anthony (December 21, 2019). "Celebration Bowl: History, all-time results and how to watch in 2019". NCAA.com. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Patterson, Chip. "MEAC, SWAC to play in Atlanta-based Celebration Bowl after 2015 season". www.cbssports.com. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Reese, Earnest (December 21, 1996). "Heritage Bowl struggling for acceptance". The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. p. 9H.
  7. ^ Hudson, Phill W. (18 March 2015). "Atlanta to Host New Celebration Bowl". Atlanta Business Chronicle. American City Business Journals. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  8. ^ "Champions of MEAC, SWAC to meet in new Celebration Bowl". www.usatoday.com. Associated Press. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  10. ^ "SWAC To Forgo Football Title Game After 2017". SWAC.org. NeuLion. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  11. ^ "SWAC football, basketball championships returning to Birmingham". AL.com. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  12. ^ "2018 Toyota SWAC Football Championship Game Relocated". FOX10 News. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  13. ^ "MEAC-SWAC 2020 football matchups in Atlanta canceled". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  14. ^ David Purdum (December 19, 2015). "5 observations from the Celebration Bowl". ajc.com. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  15. ^ "Event Results: NCCU 9 at Grambling 10". statbroadcast.com. December 17, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  16. ^ "North Carolina A&T wins 2nd Celebration Bowl in 3 years". espn.com. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  17. ^ "Wilson's return pushes NCA&T past Alcorn in Celebration Bowl". ESPN. AP. December 15, 2018. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  18. ^ Solomon, Adam (July 16, 2020). "SWAC vs MEAC Celebration Bowl is Cancelled". alabamanews.net. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  19. ^ "MVP Awards". thecelebrationbowl.com. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  20. ^ @AWainwrightTV (December 21, 2019). "Highlights:" (Tweet). Retrieved December 21, 2019 – via Twitter.
  21. ^ "College Football Playoff Highlights 2015–16 Bowl Schedule". ESPN Media Zone. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  22. ^ "College Football Playoff Featuring Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington Highlights ESPN's 38-Game Bowl Schedule". ESPN Media Zone. Retrieved December 6, 2016.

External links[edit]