WASHINGTON- With the college football season less than two months away, the Howard University football program will have the chance to show off their skills to a national audience when they take on Alabama State on Saturday, August 27 as part of the annual MEAC/SWAC Wireless Cricket Challenge. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN and will begin at 7 p.m. at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta. It will mark the official start of the 2022 college football season.
“This game features two historic programs,” said John Grant, General Manager of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge and the Celebration Bowl. “This year will be special. This is the first time in its 18 year history that the Howard Bison has participated in the launch of the Cricket Wireless MEAC/SWAC Challenge. Featuring an exciting match between these two historic teams, the game will be televised in prime time on ESPN. Fans will be delighted.
In 2004, the two teams met for the first time on a neutral site during the Detroit Classic at Ford Field. Alabama State defeated the Bison, 27-12, in front of more than 45,000 fans.
“It’s exciting,” said the Howard Football head coach Larry Scott, in his third season at the helm. “It’s surprising that our program has never played in this game, being one of the go-to teams in the conference. It’s a time of firsts, and sometimes the story begins with being the first. We want to start strong this year, and this is a great way to start.
HU should have a lot of support from its alumni, of which there are many in the Atlanta area.
“The Howard Atlanta alumni are anticipating the football team’s first appearance at the civil rights mecca in more than a decade,” said D. Orlando Ledbetter, the Atlanta Journal- Constitution’s NFL/Atlanta Falcons beat writer and Howard alumnus to the 1984 Men’s Football Team. “The MEAC/SWAC Challenge will be a great way to kick off the college football season while seeing alumni and friends support Coach Scott and the football program. A festive moment for all as the bison will trample the hornets of the State of Alabama.
Ledbetter, former award-winning editor of The Hilltop, was an active member of the Howard University Alumni Club in Atlanta.
During his undergraduate studies at The Hilltop, Adrian Williamsa native of Atlanta, was a student assistant in the sports information office and an intern for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge and the Celebration Bowl.
“Growing up, I always enjoyed HBCU football games, homecoming at Atlanta University Center (AUC), or other sporting events that helped elevate my own HBCU pride,” Williams said. “Until games like the MEAC/SWAC Challenge or other national showcases, we haven’t been able to see our talent on the big stage at our schools. I didn’t realize how lacking this representation was in the world of sports when I was a kid, but now I understand why it’s so needed and perfectly placed in a wonderful city like Atlanta. Young athletes can aspire to be on the field of the games they watched growing up at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and young professionals have more opportunities to work around the game they love. The MEAC/SWAC challenge is a great start for the future. I’m especially excited because my Alma Mater will be here for the first time.
Bonus, HU and MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) Hall of Famer Jay “Sky” Walker will be the color analyst for the show. Walker became the voice of HBCU football for ESPN and did several Howard games, but never on the ESPN platform.
“It’s a phenomenal showcase for HBCUs,” said Walker, who has the distinction of leading the Bison to a historic, undefeated 11-0 season in 1993. “There will be a live national audience and a chance to showcase the talents of these students-athletes.It is very competitive between the two conferences and [a] chance to find out who is the best.
In last year’s game, North Carolina Central upset heavily favored Alcorn State, 23-14, allowing the MEAC to lead the series, 11-4.
Fans will also be entertained by the HU Showtime Marching Band, led by the band’s manager Kelvin Washington.
“The only thing I’m going to promise you today is showtime for a group that is 80% mostly female,” Washington predicted. “Alabama State, I love you guys, but my ladies can play.”
Bands will perform at half time and then compete in the Band Battle after the game.
The Bison, who finished 3-8 (1-4 MEAC) in 2021, are bringing back several key players to mentor exceptional rookies.
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private research university comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students follow more than 140 study programs leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to excellence in truth and service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Scholars, and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard is also producing more African-American doctorates on campus. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.
About Howard Athletics
Howard University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics sponsors 21 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s varsity sports. The programs represent three conferences: the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the Northeast Conference (NEC), and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).
For more information, visit the Bison Athletics website at www.HUBison.com.
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