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Stan Becton | | November 18, 2023

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

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​​It's been more than 95 years since Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman first battled on the gridiron. The Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman football rivalry, known as the "Florida Classic," is one of the biggest events in HBCU football. In fact, the Rattlers and Wildcats annually play in the largest FCS game in the state of Florida.

Florida A&M first met Bethune-Cookman in 1925, but the Florida Classic didn't commence until 53 years later.

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Since 1978, the Rattlers and Jaguars have met annually in the final regular season game for the Florida Classic. The Florida Classic is more than just a game; it encompasses an entire weekend, with fans from both schools traveling in droves to support their schools. The battle of the bands is an event of its own with Florida A&M’s band, The Marching 100, taking on Bethune-Cookman's Marching Wildcats, filling the stadium with music.

When Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman met in 2023, it marked the Florida Classic's 445th all-time meeting. Florida A&M defeated Bethune-Cookman 24-7 for its third straight win in the series. The Rattlers lead the all-time Florida Classic series 25-19.

Here are five moments chronicling Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman’s illustrious pasts.

1978 — The first Florida Classic

In 1978, Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman decided that the two program’s annual matchup would be held at a neutral site. The game was played in Tampa, Florida.

Bethune-Cookman jumped out to an early 17-0 halftime lead. That would be all the points that the Wildcats would score in the inaugural matchup. Florida A&M’s defense led a shut out second half, coming from behind to win 27-17. After the win, the Rattlers would go on to win the FCS Championship.

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1985 — Rivalry renewed

In 1983 and 1984, the Florida Classic did not occur as neither school could agree on a playing site. However, after immense public pressure, the rivalry returned in 1985.

What a return it was. In shootout fashion, Bethune-Cookman won its third Florida Classic 31-27.

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1997 — The first game in Orlando

Throughout the early years of the Florida Classic, the game was played all over the state of Florida. That changed in 1997 as Orlando became the rivalry’s permanent home.

Over 25,000 more fans attended the 1997 Florida Classic in Citrus Bowl Stadium as the move proved to be a massive success.

On the field, the Rattlers handled the Wildcats 52-35, winning for the third consecutive year.

2000 — MEAC title game

The 2000 Florida Classic was for all the marbles. The Florida Classic served as the MEAC Conference title game, with the winner deciding the conference champion.

In front of a huge 70,719 person crowd, Florida A&M took down Bethune-Cookman 31-28 in a thrilling matchup to win the title. The win gave the Rattlers a six-game winning streak.

🏆: HBCU football championship history

2010 — Bethune-Cookman loses its first game

In 2010, Bethune-Cookman entered the Florida Classic undefeated for just the second time since the rivalry moved to the final regular-season game. The Wildcats entered after a dominant stretch, outsourcing MEAC opponents by a combined 193 points.

But prior performance gets thrown out the window when these rivals meet on the gridiron. Florida A&M stunned Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic, handing the Wildcats their first loss 38-27.

All-time series history

Date Winner Score Location
2023 Florida A&M 24-7 Orlando, FL
2022 Florida A&M 41-20 Orlando, FL
2021 Florida A&M 46–21 Orlando, FL
2019 Bethune–Cookman 31–27 Orlando, FL
2018 Bethune–Cookman 33–19 Orlando, FL
2017 Bethune–Cookman 29–24 Orlando, FL
2016 Bethune–Cookman 39–19 Orlando, FL
2015 Bethune–Cookman 35–14 Orlando, FL
2014 Bethune–Cookman 18–17 Orlando, FL
2013 Bethune–Cookman 29–10 Orlando, FL
2012 Bethune–Cookman 21–16 Orlando, FL
2011 Bethune–Cookman 26–16 Orlando, FL
2010 Florida A&M 38–27 Orlando, FL
2009 Florida A&M 42–6 Orlando, FL
2008 Florida A&M 58–35 Orlando, FL
2007 Bethune–Cookman 34–7 Orlando, FL
2006 Florida A&M 35–21 Orlando, FL
2005 Florida A&M 26–23 Orlando, FL
2004 Bethune–Cookman 58–52 Orlando, FL
2003 Bethune–Cookman 39–35 Orlando, FL
2002 Bethune–Cookman 37–10 Orlando, FL
2001 Florida A&M 31–21 Orlando, FL
2000 Florida A&M 31–28 Orlando, FL
1999 Florida A&M 63–14 Orlando, FL
1998 Florida A&M 50–14 Orlando, FL
1997 Florida A&M 52–35 Orlando, FL
1996 Florida A&M 41–7 Tampa, FL
1995 Florida A&M 43–0 Tampa, FL
1994 Bethune–Cookman 27–24 Tampa, FL
1993 Florida A&M 27–22 Tampa, FL
1992 Bethune–Cookman 35–21 Tampa, FL
1991 Florida A&M 46–28 Tampa, FL
1990 Florida A&M 42–20 Tampa, FL
1989 Florida A&M 30–7 Tampa, FL
1988 Bethune–Cookman 25–0 Tampa, FL
1987 Florida A&M 21–10 Tampa, FL
1986 Florida A&M 16–6 Tampa, FL
1985 Bethune–Cookman 31–27 Tampa, FL
1982 Florida A&M 29–14 Tampa, FL
1981 Florida A&M 29–0 Tampa, FL
1980 Bethune–Cookman 16–14 Tampa, FL
1979 Bethune–Cookman 25–20 Tampa, FL
1978 Florida A&M 27–17 Tampa, FL
1977 Florida A&M 14–7 Tallahassee, FL
1976 Bethune–Cookman 34–0 Orlando, FL
1975 Florida A&M 17–7 Tallahassee, FL
1974 Bethune–Cookman 6–0

Daytona Beach, FL

1973 Bethune–Cookman 21–13 Tallahassee, FL
1972 Florida A&M 28–18

Daytona Beach, FL

1971 Florida A&M 33–20 Tallahassee, FL
1970 Florida A&M 20–9

Daytona Beach, FL

1969 Florida A&M 60–15 Tallahassee, FL
1968 Florida A&M 23–20

Daytona Beach, FL

1967 Florida A&M 30–6 Tallahassee, FL
1966 Florida A&M 37–13

Daytona Beach, FL

1965 Florida A&M 47–8 Tallahassee, FL
1964 Florida A&M 31–14

Daytona Beach, FL

1963 Florida A&M 38–14 Tallahassee, FL
1962 Florida A&M 52–6

Daytona Beach, FL

1961 Florida A&M 76–0 Tallahassee, FL
1960 Florida A&M 97–0

Daytona Beach, FL

1959 Florida A&M 68–6 Jacksonville, FL
1958 Florida A&M 29–0 Jacksonville, FL
1957 Florida A&M 45–6 Jacksonville, FL
1956 Florida A&M 54–6 Jacksonville, FL
1955 Florida A&M 32–0 Jacksonville, FL
1953 Florida A&M 39–7 Tallahassee, FL
1952 Bethune–Cookman 8–7

Daytona Beach, FL

1951 Florida A&M 26–13 Tallahassee, FL
1950 Florida A&M 32–7

Daytona Beach, FL

1947 Florida A&M 6–0 Tallahassee, FL
1932 Florida A&M 25–0 Unknown
1931 Florida A&M 32–0 Unknown
1930 Florida A&M 32–0 Unknown
1929 Tie 6–6 Unknown
1927 Florida A&M 12–6 Tallahassee, FL
1926 Bethune–Cookman 12–0

Daytona Beach, FL

1925 Florida A&M 23–0 Tallahassee, FL

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