Classics and Rivalries Take Center Stage Week 3 of HBCU Football

Howard. Hampton. 

Hampton. Howard.

Both universities have a list of alumni that read like a “Who’s Who” of Black History. Howard has Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young and Adam Clayton Powell IV, just to name a few. Hampton has Booker T. Washington, John T. Biggers and Alberta Williams King. 

They compete in everything, and sports is just one avenue. This week the two MEAC schools will continue the legacy they started in the CIAA more than a century ago. Both schools will not only be looking to secure bragging rights, they’ll also be looking for their first wins. 

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Howard vs. Hampton is just one rivalry game that’s taking place this week. Over in the SWAC, Grambling and Jackson State both enter Week Three looking for their first win of the season, but despite that similar record, they are coming in completely different.

Grambling actually won its opener 72-12 in Week 1, but Virginia University of Lynchburg has been been ruled a non-countable opponent by the NCAA, so neither the game nor the stats count. The G-Men then took their show on the road to Arizona, where they gave their opponent all they could handle before a 21-3 halftime lead turned into a 31-21 loss. 

JSU, on the other hand, has given up a combined 103 points to UNLV and Tennessee State and is looking for its first win under new head coach Tony Hughes. They’ll have a tough out against a Grambling team that very well could win the SWAC and represent the conference in The Celebration Bowl. 

Over in the CIAA, two rivals will meet up in a game that, although classified as a non-conference game, will be as fierce as any this season. Virginia Union heads down to Winston-Salem State for the first-ever Winston-Salem Football Classic. VUU, a playoff team last year with an 8-2 regular season record, has already lost twice this season.

WSSU (1-1) will be looking to build off a big non-conference win against Catawba. This rivalry has seen a lot of great players and coaches over its history, including Bill Hayes, who will be honored by his rival and contemporary Joe Taylor, as well as others. 

The big game in the SIAC is a matchup of a team that formerly competed in the conference, Florida A&M, and the current power in Tuskegee. The two schools were big rivals for decades before FAMU moved up to Division I and moved to the MEAC. They  played sparingly for a while but haven’t met since the 1990’s.

Both teams want to win this game, billed as “The Fifth Quarter Classic”, badly. Tuskegee (2-0), a playoff team three years in a row, wants to prove it can play with an FBS team while FAMU will be looking for its first win of the season and just its second since Nov. 2014. 

But of course, with a game called The Fifth Quarter Classic, the bands will be just as in demand as the football. HBCU Gameday caught up with Tuskegee’s band director, a FAMU alumnus, to find out how his Marching Crimson Pipers are embracing the underdog role vs. the Marching 100.


Tickets for the AT&T Nations Football Classic begin at $25 and are available at For addition information, please visit

The AT&T Nation’s Football Classic is a black college football game held annually at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Now in its sixth year, the 2016 game features Howard University against Hampton University and will be played on Saturday, September 17.

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