Schedule set for 12-team tournament

The first year of the 12-team College Football Playoff begins on December 20 with a first-round game and concludes a month later with the title game in Atlanta.

The CFP announced the full program on Wednesday. The four first round matches will be on December 20 and 21. ABC and ESPN will air the games on Friday and Saturday evenings with kickoffs at 7:00 PM CST, while TNT will carry the December 21 games at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM.

The day’s games will compete against two NFL games: Houston-Kansas City at noon and Baltimore-Pittsburgh at 3:30 p.m.

Mike Mulvihill, Fox president of insights and analytics, thinks there will be room to serve both audiences. Fox has the Ravens-Steelers game because it goes up against a late afternoon CFP matchup.

“I think it’s fine that the NFL and college football can coexist on that date. I think both events will do well,” he said.

The four first-round matchups, which will be played on college campuses, will be announced on December 8. TNT has two games via a sublicense with ESPN.

ESPN’s $7.8 billion deal with CFP, announced in March, allowed it to sublicense games to other networks. The financial terms of the sublicense were not disclosed.

The quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game will be broadcast on ESPN.

The top four conference champions receive byes in the first round. The Quarterfinals begin on December 31 with the Fiesta Bowl at 6:30 PM CST. New Year’s Day begins at noon with the Peach Bowl, followed by the Rose Bowl at the traditional venue at 4:00 PM and the Sugar Bowl at 7:45 PM.

The semifinals are the Orange Bowl on January 9 and the Cotton Bowl on January 10. Both have a start time of 6:30 PM CST before the championship match takes place on January 20 in Atlanta.

ESPN will announce its schedule for most bowl games on Thursday.