LORMAN, MS (AlcornSports.com) - The MEAC/SWAC Challenge – which features teams from two prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) on the opening weekend of the college football season – will originate from Daytona Beach, Fla. in 2016 and Baton Rouge, La. in 2017. The 2016 game will showcase Alcorn State University of the SWAC vs. Bethune-Cookman University of the MEAC. In 2017, South Carolina State University of the MEAC will square off against Southern University of the SWAC. Both games will be aired on an ESPN network.
The 2016 event will be played at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016 on ESPN. Kickoff time as well as ticket information will be announced at a later date.
Bethune-Cookman will be making its third appearance in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, previously winning the 2011 and 2012 games. In his first season at the helm of the Wildcats, Terry Sims earned MEAC coach of the year honors after leading the team to a 9-2 overall mark. The Wildcats' 8-1 conference record gave them at least a share of the MEAC title for the fourth consecutive season.
Alcorn State went 9-4 overall in 2015, 7-2 in the SWAC regular season, winning the SWAC Eastern Division title. The Braves went on to defeat Grambling State in the conference championship game, earning a spot in the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. Fred McNair, brother of Alcorn State great and Heisman finalist (1993) Steve McNair, will lead the Braves during the 2016 season, having recently been named the program's 21st head coach.
The 2017 game will be played at A.W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017.
South Carolina State will play in the annual game for the fourth time (2005, 2009, 2015), the most of any school. Oliver "Buddy" Pough just completed his 14th season as head football coach at his alma mater, leading the Bulldogs to a 7-4 overall record, 6-2 in the MEAC.
Southern is appearing for the third time (2007, 2010) at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. The Jaguars, led by fourth-year head coach Dawson Odums, earned a 6-5 overall mark in 2015, 6-3 in SWAC play.
"We are thrilled to continue the MEAC/SWAC Challenge legacy in Florida for the 2016 game featuring two of the strongest returning teams, Alcorn State and Bethune-Cookman from their respective conferences," said Pete Derzis, senior vice president, ESPN Events. "In 2017, we take this historic game to the campus of Southern University as they will face South Carolina State University."
"We are excited to have Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State represent the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in the 12th and 13th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge, respectively," said MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas. "The 2016 and 2017 MEAC/SWAC Challenges have been an instrumental event for our conference in continuing to expand our brand on a national platform by playing on ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, as well as, providing our student-athletes, institutions and coaches with an opportunity to participate in a bowl-like, first-class event, which kicks off the football season."
"We are excited to have Alcorn State and Southern represent the Southwestern Athletic Conference in the 12th and 13th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge, respectively," said Duer Sharp, commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. "The MEAC/SWAC Challenge has been an enormous event for our conference in continuing to expand our league on a national stage, playing on ESPN, all while providing our fans an historical legacy to look back on. We are delighted to have a pair of teams that have finished near the top of our conference the past few years signify the start of college football season for the next two seasons."
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