North Carolina Central is headed to the FCS Playoffs and it won’t have far to travel.
The FCS playoffs field was announced on Sunday afternoon and NC Central was awarded the bid and will travel to the University of Richmond.
North Carolina Central finished the season 9-2, good for second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. That’s the same record it had last season when it went to the Celebration Bowl. The difference is it lost to Howard University on Nov. 11, giving HU the head-to-head tiebreaker as both teams finished 4-1 in the six-team league. The loss to Howard was NCCU’s lone defeat at the hands of an FCS team. Its other defeat came at the hands of UCLA in September.
Richmond comes into the matchup 8-3, with two of its losses coming against HBCUs. That includes Morgan State, which North Carolina Central defeated in Baltimore last month, as well as former MEAC member Hampton University. However, it enters the playoffs on a six-game winning streak.
NCCU went 3-0 against CAA teams this year, defeating North Carolina A&T, Campbell University and Elon. NCCU and Richmond have two wins against common opponents. Both programs beat Delaware State and North Carolina A&T. Richmond pummeled DSU 38-6, while NCCU defeated it 55-14. Richmond beat NC A&T 33-10, while NCCU defeated its rival 30-16.
NCCU becomes just the second MEAC team to make the playoffs since the league gave up its automatic bid to the FCS playoffs back in 2015 as part of the deal with the Celebration Bowl. The first was North Carolina A&T, who finished second to NCCU in 2016. Ironically, both teams were awarded bids after playing in the Celebration Bowl previously.
This will be North Carolina Central’s inaugural trip to the FCS playoffs.