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Associated Press | December 15, 2018

Celebration Bowl preview: Alcorn St., NC A&T square off for HBCU national championship

Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports lcorn State Braves quarterback Noah Johnson (13) throws against the against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Alcorn State is looking for its sixth HBCU title and first since 2014.

The 2018 bowl season kicks off noon Saturday in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the Celebration Bowl.

What to know: Alcorn State (9-3, 6-1) vs. North Carolina A&T (9-2, 6-1), Dec. 15, Noon Eastern (ABC), Series record tied 1-1

RELATED: Bowl scheduleBiggest non-CFP bowl games

WHAT'S AT STAKE

North Carolina A&T is playing for its seventh Historically Black Colleges and Universities national title and third in four years. Alcorn State is looking for its sixth HBCU title and first since 2014.

 

KEY MATCHUP

Alcorn State QB Noah Johnson vs. North Carolina A&T defense. Johnson is the SWAC offensive player of the year after throwing for 2,079 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushing for 960 yards and nine TDs. The Aggies are second in the Football Championship Subdivision in total defense and have been one of the top units in the nation over the past seven years.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alcorn State: DB Javen Morrison leads Alcorn in interceptions for the third consecutive year. He has 10 on his career with four this season, including one in the SWAC championship game.

North Carolina A&T: RB Marquell Cartwright is a 1,000-yard rusher who has provided consistency to an offense run by injury-plagued QB Lamar Raynard.

 

FACTS & FIGURES

North Carolina A&T is ranked No. 1 in the HBCU poll and Alcorn State is No. 2. ... Alcorn's defense is first in the FCS in sacks per game (4.25) and tackles for a loss per game (9.3). ... Braves RB De'Shawn Waller has rushed for at least 100 yards in six of the last seven games, including a game-high 177 and three touchdowns in the SWAC championship game. ... Raynard is 34-2 as the Aggies' starting quarterback. ... The Aggies have held 54 opponents under 100 yards rushing 54 times since Sam Washington became head coach in 2011.

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