The key dates for the 2022 HBCU football season have been announced by ESPN, the network that owns and operates both events.

On Aug. 27, Alabama State faces Howard University in the 2022 Crick MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kick-Off game on “Week 0” a term created to acknowledge how it will be the only Division I college football game played the week before the rest of the country starts play.

The kick off classic is hosted at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, home to Georgia State University. In last season’s kick off, North Carolina Central defeated Alcorn State 23-14.

The Cricket Celebration Bowl, also known as the Black college football national championship, will be played on Dec. 17 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the home of the Atlanta Falcons.

The game features the champions from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), the only two all-HBCU Division I conferences. 

MEAC champions are 5-1 in the contest.

Last season, SWAC champion Jackson State faced South Carolina State, and the Bulldogs pulled a convincing 31-10 upset over the favored Tigers, coached by Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. 

The 2021 championship game featured two 2022 NFL Draft picks with former South Carolina State defensive back Decobie Durant, now with the Los Angeles Rams, and former Jackson State linebacker James Houston IV of the Detroit Lions.