Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T play in the 2018 Celebration Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, at Atlanta. Below, find game time, TV channel, prediction and preview information.
The Aggies are playing for their second consecutive Celebration Bowl title and third in four years. Alcorn State is playing in it for the first time since 2015, when it lost to NC A&T, 41-34.
Alcorn State-North Carolina A&T: Celebration Bowl Time, TV channel
North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State play at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 15. The game is played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It can be watched on ABC.
MORE: Alcorn State-North Carolina A&T score, live stats
Only 4⃣ more days!! #AChampionWillRise 🏆 pic.twitter.com/ScXwxoH87m— AFR Celebration Bowl (@CelebrationBowl) December 11, 2018
Alcorn State-North Carolina A&T: Prediction, preview
NC A&T is back in the Celebration Bowl, trying to win for the third time in its four years.
The Aggies almost didn't make it back, however. NC A&T needed to beat North Carolina Central and have Florida A&M lose to rival Bethune-Cookman to win the MEAC. But that's what happened: NC A&T won 45-0 and the Rattlers lost, 33-19. The Aggies had earlier lost to Florida A&M during the regular season, 22-21.
North Carolina A&T, which also beat FBS East Carolina this season (28-23), ranks second in FCS in total defense at 254.3 yards per game. But Alcorn State will be a huge test, as the Braves average 475.2 offensive yards per game. NC A&T did well in the first game of the season, holding a Jacksonville State offense that ended up ranking No. 5 in total offense (497.3 ypg) to almost 100 yards lower than its season average. The Aggies also recovered three fumbles in the 20-17 win.
This Saturday #AChampionWillRise 🏆@ncatsuaggies 🆚 @AlcornStateU #MBStadium ➡️ https://t.co/6yydWxPqgP pic.twitter.com/OYVikZU0wS— MercedesBenzStadium (@MBStadium) December 13, 2018
Alcorn State clinched its spot in the Celebration Bowl by defeating Southern in the SWAC Championship Game, 37-28. The Braves have two players who have combined for 2,008 rushing yards: RB De'Shawn Waller (1,048 yards) and QB Noah Johnson (960 yards). The Aggies have a 1,000-yard rusher of their own in RB Marquell Cartwright (1,048 yards). Cartwright was the Celebration Bowl Offensive MVP a year ago.
But this game will come down to the Aggies' defense against the Braves' offense. Alcorn State has a tough defense of its own, but that battle will be the difference. Alcorn State will try to keep MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Darryl Johnson in check.
Both teams are led by first-year head coaches: Sam Washington for NC A&T and Fred McNair for Alcorn State.
Alcorn State-North Carolina A&T: Stats, how they compare
|North Carolina A&T||Stat/Leader||Alcorn State|
|9-2 (6-1 MEAC)||Record (Conference)||9-3 (6-1 SWAC)|
|No. 11||FCS Coaches Poll Ranking||NR|
|30.6||Points per game||33.5|
|369.5||Yards per game||475.2|
|254.3||Yards allowed per game||288.7|
|181.6||Passing yards allowed||193.0|
|72.6||Rushing yards allowed||95.7|
1,630 yards (18 TDs, 5 INTs)
|Passing yards||Noah Johnson
2,079 yards (15 TDs, 8 INTs)
1,002 yards, 7 TDs
|Rushing yards||De'Shawn Waller
1,048 yards, 12 TDs
557 yards, 8 TDs
|Receiving yards||Raidarious Anderson
502 yards, 3 TDs
18.5 tfl, 10.5 sacks
|Defensive leader||Trey Whittington
14 tfl, 9 sacks
Celebration Bowl: Scores, history
The Celebration Bowl started in 2015, with North Carolina A&T winning two of the first three games.
|Date||MEAC Team||Score||SWAC team||Series|
|Dec. 19, 2015||North Carolina A&T||41-34 A&T||Alcorn State||MEAC, 1-0|
|Dec. 17, 2016||North Carolina Central||10-9 Grambling State||Grambling State||Tied, 1-1|
|Dec. 16, 2017||North Carolina A&T||21-14 A&T||Grambling State||MEAC, 2-1|
|Dec. 15, 2018||North Carolina A&T||TBD||Alcorn State||TBD|
Alcorn State-North Carolina A&T: Score prediction
The Aggies have become a force in this game. It probably won't change this year, though Alcorn State has the offense to make NC A&T have to battle for four quarters.
NC A&T 24, Alcorn State 21