North Carolina A&T may have dropped its biggest rivalry game in the Aggie-Eagle Classic last Saturday, but it will take the 21–16 home loss to North Carolina Central University and its share of a three-way Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football title to Atlanta next month, as the first team to qualify for the inaugural Celebration Bowl.
The Aggies, 7–1 in MEAC play and co-champions for the second straight season, split the title this season with Bethune-Cookman University and NCCU, but secured their Celebration Bowl berth by way of a tiebreaker following a 35–14 BCU win over FAMU in the Florida Classic, the Wildcats’ fifth straight win in the rivalry game.
“That’s why we do this: to have an opportunity to play,” A&T coach Rod Broadway said in the moments after Saturday’s 21–16 loss to Central. “To have an opportunity to go to the bowl game, even if it’s not under the circumstances we would have chosen, but, hey, it is what it is. … We’re going.”
A&T will face the winner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game between Grambling State University and Alcorn State University on Dec. 5 in Houston. Billed as the official kickoff to the college football bowl season, the Celebration Bowl will be played on Dec. 19 and aired live on ABC.
It is the Aggies’ first NCAA postseason appearance in 12 years.