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Orange Bowl to be played in primetime Dec. 30

Staff report
South Florida fans won't need to balance the Orange Bowl and New Year's Eve festivities this year.

After being played on New Year's Eve the past two years, the Orange Bowl is moving to Dec. 30 for 2016, and the game will be played in primetime for an ESPN audience.

The College Football Playoff and Orange Bowl Committee announced revised plans for this year's bowl games Monday.

The national semifinals -- to be contested at the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31 -- will begin at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., an hour earlier than last year's semifinals.

Kickoff time for the Orange Bowl, which falls on a Friday, has not yet been announced.

“The Capital One Orange Bowl was presented with a unique opportunity by our partners, including ESPN, the ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Notre Dame and the CFP, to play this year’s game on Friday, December 30 in primetime,” said Michael B. Chavies, president and chair of the Orange Bowl Committee.

“With New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday and other bowl games planned for the early afternoon window, this schedule enables our game to stand alone and kick off the holiday weekend as the only bowl game staged on Friday night. We are confident this traditional start time will be a positive for both the out of town and local fans who attend our game, as well as the television viewers across the country.”

Last year, the Orange Bowl served as a CFP semifinal for the first time, as No. 1 Clemson defeated No. 4 Oklahoma, 37-17, before an announced 67,615 at Sun Life Stadium.

The Orange Bowl will host a semifinal game every three years under the College Football Playoff system, which is entering its third year. So, semifinal games will be held here in 2018-19, 2021-22 and 2024-25.

This year and in seven of the next 10 years, the Orange Bowl will feature a team from the ACC (the champion, if not selected for the College Football Playoff) against the highest ranked available non-champion from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame.

"The ACC continues to be extremely proud of its partnership with the Capital One Orange Bowl," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. "With this year's game being played on Friday night in primetime, there is no question that it's the right move for everyone involved, especially for college football fans and the loyal supporters in South Florida."

Starting the semifinals an hour earlier comes after the CFP received criticism for scheduling the games so close to midnight on New Year's Eve, when many fans had to balance watching the games with their social plans.

The order of the two semifinal games will be determined on the selection day, Dec. 4.

“As we committed earlier this year, we have looked at the landscape for the upcoming season and are confident that this change will make it easier for more fans to watch the games on television and also will benefit fans who will attend the games in person,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff.  “The semifinals will be played on Saturday for the first time. The Capital One Orange Bowl will be in an evening time slot, which is its tradition.”

The Cotton Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will be played Monday Jan. 2, the traditional date in years when Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday.

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