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Stan Becton | | February 27, 2023

6 can't-miss HBCU football game-day atmospheres

NC Central's Davius Richard and Khalil Baker break down winning school's first Celebration Bowl

When it comes to football at HBCUs, the setting is just as important as the product on the field. The fans, the bands, the stadiums, and more create a unique environment for teams to play in.

Here are some can’t miss game-day atmospheres in HBCU football.

6 can't-miss HBCU football game-day atmospheres

A Jackson State home football game — Jackson, MS

Sixty-thousand-plus. That's the capacity for a Jackson State home football game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Tigers play in the largest stadium for any HBCU not used for professional sports. Jackson State led the FCS in average attendance in 2018 and 2019.

The fans at a Jackson State home game combined with Jackson State's band, the Sonic Boom of the South, give the Tigers one of the best home-field advantages. The number of people cheering (or booing) in the stadium creates an incredible game-day atmosphere.

MORE: What happened in the 2022 HBCU football season | 2022 Celebration Bowl | Final 2022 Rankings

Labor Day Classic — Houston, TX

They say everything's bigger in Texas — and the Labor Day Classic is no different. The two biggest HBCUs in Texas, Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M, meet every year during Labor Day weekend to play their annual rivalry game. Just 50 miles apart, the two SWAC play for the Durley-Nicks Trophy and bragging rights. 

With typically a day off on Monday, the Labor Day Classic weekend is full of events that include pep rallies, tailgates and a battle of the bands. When it comes to the on-field product, Texas Southern leads the all-time series after a dominant stretch in the 90s. However, Prairie View A&M won seven straight meetings from 2015-2021.

MORE: What happened in the 2021 HBCU football season | 2021 Celebration Bowl | Final 2021 Rankings

North Carolina A&T Homecoming — Greensboro, NC

They don't call it the Greatest Homecoming On Earth (GHOE) for no reason. North Carolina A&T homecoming, GHOE, is a full-on event that people from around the country travel to experience. The entire week leading up to the actual homecoming game is full of celebrations, performances and more. 

North Carolina A&T's recent success on the field only adds to the extravaganza. The Aggies won nine straight homecoming games from 2011-2019 with an average margin of victory of 33 points. While the celebration would continue regardless of the outcome, a blowout victory gives players a party on the field and fans a party off of it.

🐐: Here are the greatest individual seasons in HBCU football history

Bayou Classic — New Orleans, LA

Since 1974, the Saturday after Thanksgiving in New Orleans has been the place to be if you're an HBCU football fan. It's for the Bayou Classic, an annual game between SWAC rivals and Louisiana schools Grambling State and Southern. 

The Superdome hosts this game and creates an atmosphere like none other. Like other events on this list, the Bayou Class encompasses the entire weekend. Friday's battle of the bands fills half the stadium with music filling the rest as Southern's band, The Human Jukebox, takes on Grambling State's Tiger Marching Band. 

When game day rolls around, the excitement is at its highest fans of both schools create a raucous atmosphere. Both Grambling State and Southern have played some of their best games in the Bayou Classic.

Grambling State-Southern football: Memorable moments, all-time history of the Bayou Classic

Howard Homecoming — Washington, DC

Howard Homecoming is a storied event that has been featured in pop culture on TV, in movies and more. A reunion of sorts, thousands flock to Howard as the nation's capital hosts events and celebrations.

The homecoming culminates with a home Bison football game just across from the campus lawn. Fans pack Greene Stadium for the main event.

🏆: HBCU football championship history

Florida Classic — Orlando, FL

The Florida Classic features two of Florida's premier HBCUs facing off yearly at a neutral site game in Orlando, Florida. Long-time rivals Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman have played in the Florida Classic since 1978, with more than 2 million fans attending in that time.

Fans from both schools travel to see their schools win state bragging rights for the year. The game is often tightly contested, as the teams split the series, each winning 11 games, from 1997-2021.

The bragging rights extend beyond the football field as well. The halftime show between Florida A&M's Marching 100 and Bethune-Cookman's Marching Wildcats creates a competition within a competition as the bands perform for a thrilled crowd.

Bethune-Cookman-Florida A&M football: Memorable moments, all-time history of the Florida Classic

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