ORLANDO – The Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats and Florida A&M University Rattlers will do battle in the Florida Blue Florida Classic Nov. 19 at Camping World Stadium.
B-CU will enter the game with a 3-5 record, while FAMU is currently 4-6 after defeating Morgan State over the weekend ahead of traveling to Orlando for the Florida Classic. But the records don’t matter. Winning the late-season contest between these two will mean bragging rights until next year.
And those are some bragging rights. The Florida Blue Florida Classic has become the single-biggest football game between two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in America. It is the most heavily attended game in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision. More than 1.5 million spectators have attended the Florida Classic since the game’s inception in 1978.
The schools have been playing one another on the gridiron since 1925. But the “Florida Classic” came into being in 1978, despite missing the games in 1983 and 1984. The game moved to Orlando full-time in 1997 and it was a rousing success, drawing more than 56,000 fans to Camping World Stadium.
And Florida Citrus Sports (FCS) is committed to the Florida Blue Florida Classic continuing to be a rousing success, according to FCS CEO Steve Hogan.
“The Florida Blue Florida Classic is probably one of the most important events we’ve done here and continues to be,” Hogan said. “If you think about that relationship, dating back to 1997 … we worked hard with the two institutions to say ‘Let’s make a home together and let’s have the resources of this game flow to your benefit.’ Bringing that game here was one of the greatest things we’ve ever done in Orlando.”
Hogan said any true college football fan – especially a college football fan from Florida – should experience the Florida Blue Florida Classic.
“Your bucket list isn’t complete if you haven’t come to a classic,” Hogan said. “It’s about family. It’s about a good-natured rivalry and sometimes most every house is divided between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman. It’s a good-natured ribbing throughout the day and week. When the game’s over, it’s just a family celebration. It’s the food, the music, the bands. It’s everything about college football that I think is special. It’s one of my favorite events that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on here.”
Bethune-Cookman will bring a stout defense into this season’s Florida Blue Florida Classic. The Wildcats feature the No. 36-ranked defense in all of NCAA FCS. B-CU will get into its opponent’s backfield on a regular basis. The Wildcats rank No. 14 in the nation in tackles for loss, averaging 7.5 per game.
Meanwhile, FAMU is solid on defense as well. Don’t try to throw it against the Rattlers. They rank No. 7 in the nation in passing defense and No. 18 in interceptions. FAMU has picked off opponent aerials 12 times this season, averaging more than one interception a game.
FAMU will be looking for its first Florida Classic victory in six years, as B-CU has won the last five meetings. While the Wildcats have had the upper hand lately, most of the contests over that timeframe have been competitive, with 2014 going to overtime and 2012 being decided by less than a touchdown. Prior to the five-year win streak for B-CU, the Rattlers had won three straight and five of six.
The 2016 edition of the Florida Blue Florida Classic is set for a 2 p.m. kickoff on Nov. 19 at Camping World Stadium. Get your tickets – starting at just $15 – by clicking here.