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Game Of The Week: NC A&T at North Carolina Central

North Carolina Central’s Arthur Goforth needs 68 yards to become the third player in NCCU history with over 4,000 career all-purpose yards.

There is nothing like a rivalry game in sports. No matter how much coaches would like you to believe otherwise, there’s always that one team that gets the blood of coaches, players and fans flooding more than usual. 

One of the biggest rivalries in HBCU sports will be renewed this week as North Carolina A&T will travel down I-40 East to face North Carolina Central in Durham on Saturday. This is the 84 edition of a game formerly known as “The Aggie-Eagle Classic.” Now that both teams are in the same conference, it’s simply a yearly MEAC showdown. 

Rod Broadway returns to NCCU for
the first time since leaving for
Grambling in 2007.

Both teams enter the game with identical records (6-4), and both of the teams have had to overcome adversity to get there. NC A&T was hit with NCAA Sanctions due to consistently low APR scores, muting the Aggies playoff chances before they broke for fall camp. Second-year A&T coach Rod Broadway also had to work to cleanse his program of the stench of eight consecutive losing seasons. Even with a loss, his team will finish with a winning record. Prognosticators may point to the fact that two of those wins were blowouts over Division II opponents, but surely they will be drowned out by the cries of “Aggie Pride,” especially with a win over the Eagles. 

“To be 6-4 at this point in the season has been a great accomplishment by our players,” Broadway said in his weekly press conference. “No one has given us anything, so we’re pleased to be where we are. But we have one more game left and we need to go win this one.”

Very few predicted the Eagles would finish near the top of the MEAC standings. After a 2-9 finish in 2011, very little was expected of the Eagles as they were predicted to finish ninth in the 11 team conference. After starting off 1-2, the Eagles went on a four game winning streak that took the HBCU world by surprised. Though they’ve lost two of their past three games, including a first-place showdown with Bethune-Cookman, they have proven that they belong in the MEAC as much as any other program. 

There is also another angle to this game that only adds to the anticipation. Saturday will be Broadway’s first time coaching at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium since he left for Grambling State in 2007. Broadway coached at NCCU from 2003 to 2006, compiling a record of 33-11 and winning back-to-back CIAA championships. Broadway and current NCCU head coach Henry Frazier are also both familiar with each other as they coached against each other in the SWAC as Frazier helped resurrect the Prarie View A&M program. 

Frazier doesn’t seem to think this game will be a high-scoring affair.
  
“Both teams have had some success this year, and it’s going to be a dogfight,” Frazier said at his weekly press conference. “It looks like it’s going to be a defensive struggle.”

I expect this to be a really good game. Both defenses are solid, and both offenses are prone to making big mistakes. This game could go either way. Football-wise, the team that is able to best capitalize off their opponents mistake should squeak this one out.

Our Prediction: NCCU 17, NC A&T 13

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