For the fifth year in a row the bowl season will start with two HBCUs. The fifth Celebration Bowl will take place in Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium when SWAC Champion Alcorn State takes on MEAC co-champion, and three-time Celebration Bowl winner North Carolina A&T.
The game will be broadcast on ABC starting at 12 PM.
1. Yes, they meet again
Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T will be the matchup in the Celebration Bowl for the third time in the game’s five-year history. A&T has won both of the previouse matchups, winning the inagural game 41-34 behind an electric performance by Tarik Cohen and holding on for a 24-20 win in last year’s edition.
2. But (some) of the stars have changed
Both A&T and Alcorn State will have different starters than the matchup at the end of last season. Lamar Raynard led A&T to back-to-back Super Bowls, but it is his former backup, Kylil Carter, who will be under center when the MEAC rep rolls into Atlanta. SWAC Offensive Player of The Year Felix Harper was a backup to Noah Johnson last year, but after stepping up early in the season he shoulders the pressure of helping his program break through. Gone also is edge rusher Daryl Johnson, who left A&T after his redshirt junior season to move on to the NFL. Jah-Maine Martin was understudy to Marquel Cartwright at running back last year, but now he’s one of the best backs in the FCS.
3. However there is still plenty of experience
Although this will be Carter’s first Celebration Bowl as a starter, he has played in a game before. Carter, in fact, played in the first Celebration Bowl as a true freshman back in 2015. Elijah Bell didn’t play in the first game, but he has played in the last two, and the greatest receiver in A&T history would like nothing more than to go 3-0 in the bowl game. A&T defensive back Mac McCain helped his team beat Grambling as a freshman in CBIII, but had to sit out last season after tearing his ACL. He’s back and looking to contribute to this title. Alcorn’s De’Shawn Waller burned A&T up on the ground last year, and after fighting off injuries, looks to do the same in 2019.
4. Two National Player of The Year Finalists will be on the field
Both Felix and North Carolina A&T running back Jah-Maine Martin were backups last year, but both have stepped up to have big 2019 seasons. The pair are also up for several major awards, including HBCU Gameday/Protect Your Skull FCS National Offensive Player of The Year. See the complete list of finalists here.