DURHAM, N.C. – North Carolina Central University (NCCU), the 2022 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and HBCU national champions, unveiled its 2023 football schedule on Thursday.
Among NCCU’s 11 regular-season contests, the Eagles will host five home games, play UCLA in Rose Bowl Stadium, and travel to Indianapolis for the Circle City Classic.
NCCU, which ended last season ranked No. 17 in NCAA Division I-FCS, opens the upcoming campaign with a home game against Winston-Salem State University on Sept. 2. This will be the 47th meeting between NCCU and WSSU since the two teams first met in 1945. The Eagles hold a slim advantage in the series, 24-22, and have won six of the last eight contests.
On Sept. 9, the Eagles visit Greensboro to face North Carolina A&T State University. NCCU opened last season with a 28-13 victory over the Aggies in the Duke’s Mayo Classic at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. This will be the 94th meeting between the Eagles and Aggies, who have split the last 16 match-ups.
On Sept. 16, NCCU will become just the second HBCU to play UCLA on the gridiron, when the Eagles take on the Bruins at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. This will mark NCCU’s first football trip to the west coast since 2008, when the Eagles challenged Cal Poly.
On Sept. 23, NCCU will make its second appearance at the Circle City Classic in Indianapolis, as the Eagles confront Mississippi Valley State University inside Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. NCCU’s first Circle City Classic experience resulted in a victory over South Carolina State University in 2012.
The Eagles return to The Nest on Sept. 30 to welcome Campbell University to O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium for the first time. A member of the Big South Conference, the Fighting Camels are led by head coach Mike Minter, a former defensive back with the Carolina Panthers.
On Oct. 7, NCCU makes its shortest trip of the season, a 40-mile drive to Elon University for the Eagles’ final non-conference contest of the regular season. Members of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Phoenix advanced to the FCS playoffs and secured a national ranking in the top-20 last season. Elon leads the series 9-3, and has won both clashes since NCCU transitioned to NCAA Division I-FCS (2011 in Durham, 2012 in Elon).
After a week off, the Eagles will begin their quest to repeat as MEAC champions when they travel to Baltimore to play Morgan State University on Oct. 21. The Bears lead the series 24-18-2, but the Eagles have won the last five meetings.
On Oct. 28, NCCU hosts South Carolina State University, the only conference foe to have defeated the Eagles in 2022. SC State leads the series 15-12, and the Bulldogs have won five of the last nine meetings since NCCU rejoined the league in 2011.
NCCU celebrates homecoming on Nov. 4 versus Norfolk State University. The Eagles have defeated the Spartans in seven out of the last nine matchups, including last year’s conference-championship-clinching victory in Virginia, to take a series lead of 12-7.
NCCU’s final road game of the regular season is a trip to the nation’s capital to face Howard University on Nov. 11. NCCU has won 10 straight matchups with the Bison to take a 15-9-1 advantage in the series.
NCCU closes out the regular season with a home contest against Delaware State University in Durham. The Eagles own a 21-7 series lead over the Hornets.
The MEAC and SWAC champions will square off in the 2023 Cricket Celebration Bowl on Dec. 16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
In 2022, NCCU won its first MEAC football championship since 2016, and defeated No. 5 Jackson State University, 41-34, in an overtime thriller in the Cricket Celebration Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The victory delivered the university’s fourth HBCU national championship title, joining the company of those captured in 1954, 2005 and 2006.
The 2022 NCCU Eagles became just the third team in school history to win 10 games in a season and earned the program’s highest NCAA Division I-FCS national ranking at No. 17 in the final American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Coaches’ Poll.