After nearly a week of anticipation, Jackson State and Florida A&M are set to square off in the revival of the Orange Blossom Classic.
Here are the basics of what you need to know:
Date: Sunday, Sept. 5
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST
Place: Hard Rock Cafe
Orange Blossom Revived
The Orange Blossom Classic is one of the most storied games in HBCU history. The game started back in 1933 as Florida A&M looked to increase the visibility of its football program by creating a prestigious bowl game. The game took on an elevated status in 1947 when it moved up to Miami with legendary Jake Gaither as its head coach. The game often became a de facto black college national championship game at its height before being shelved after the 1978 season.
New Eras Begin
While the past of the Orange Blossom Classic alone makes this game important, recent developments have only served to heighten the excitement.
Florida A&M is coming off a 9-2 season in 2019, its final season in the MEAC. Sunday’s game will mark its first as a member of the SWAC after being a part of the MEAC since 1980. The decision to switch conferences was considered a big win for FAMU and the SWAC.
Jackson State, of course, is looking to start a new era of its own. Deion Sanders already has a few games under his belt after leading JSU this spring, but in many ways, the Coach Prime Era will really take off. Many of those FBS transfers and four-star recruits will step out onto the field for the first time as Sanders coaches in his home state for the first time.
SWAC East Implications
Both FAMU and JSU will compete in the SWAC East going forward. FAMU was picked to finish second in the division behind spring champion Alabama A&M, with JSU picked to finish behind it. While the budding rivalry and the sexinesss of the matchup have most people’s attention, the fact is the loser will find itself in a 0-1 hole after the game in what is expected to be a tight race.
Sheduer Sanders Debuts
Sunday will mark the first collegiate game for Sheduer Sanders. The youngest son of head coach Deion Sanders was the highest-rated recruit in Jackson State history last fall when he committed to joining his father. He originally committed to Florida Atlantic, but instead will suit up to play in his father’s home state under the spotlight.