FAMU, Valley Have Something To Prove In MEAC/SWAC Challenge

Damien Fleming will lead FAMU against Mississippi Valley State on Sunday. 

For the ninth consecutive year, black college football’s two Division I conferences, the MEAC and SWAC will square off in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. So far, the MEAC has owned the series, winning six of the first eight games.

This year’s matchup features two teams with a lot to prove in 2013. The game will air on live on ESPN Sunday, Sept. 1.

// Florida A&M, traditionally one of the powerhouse teams in black college football, 2012 was a year it would like to forget. Off the field, the Marching 100, FAMU’s world famous band, didn’t play a note as it served a self-imposed suspension in the wake of the hazing-related death of drum major Robert Champion. On the field, FAMU struggled to a 3-6 start, then watched as head coach Joe Taylor abruptly announced his retirement the morning of the team’s loss to NC A&T.

Replacing Taylor is Rattler legend and former NFL linebacker Earl Holmes. Holmes has brought in a staff filled with former pro players, including former Rattler Quinn Gray as offensive coordinator and former Pittsburgh Steeler teammate Levon Kirkland as defensive coordinator.

Despite his team’s disappoint record last season, Holmes has several talented players at his disposal. It starts with quarterback Damien Fleming, who threw for 2,175 while tossing 16 touchdowns and throwing just five interceptions. The big question for FAMU on offense will be whether or not the running game can keep teams honest.


Corner Kevin Eugene will look to stop the FAMU passing game in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Sunday. (Dread Head Photo)

// Mississippi Valley State’s record 5-7, wasn’t much better than FAMU’s but coming off a one-win 2011 season, they have to feel like they are headed in the right direction. Valley already knows it won’t be able to play in the SWAC championship due to APR restrictions, so this is the biggest stage it will see all year.

// their inability to win the SWAC East championship, Valley can certainly cause some havoc for other teams. Defensive lineman Robert Simpson is one of the best in the FCS, and defensive back Kevin Eugene emerged as one of the SWAC’s better defenders in his first year at Valley. The Delta Devils challenge this season will be to get some type of offensive production from someone other than receiver Julian Stafford.

// who follow HBCU football, especially in MEAC country, see this games a potential coming out party for FAMU. It’s pretty easy to see why, as FAMU will be playing this “neutral” game in its home state and will likely get an emotional lift with the return of the 100. Some are expecting a blowout. I say don’t be so sure. Both these teams have holes, and this game could be decided by a few plays either way. FAMU wins, but not by much.

Prediction: FAMU 24, Mississippi Valley 17

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