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Bethune-Cookman, FAMU battle for MEAC crown

By Brandon A Baylor, FCS Intern

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A year ago, Bethune-Cookman Wildcats finished with a 5-6 record. Since then, a lot has changed for the better, and no one is looking in the past.

Bethune-Cookman is 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the MEAC, only a win away from a perfect regular season and an outright conference title. The FCS's only unbeaten team is ranked No. 7 in The Sports Network/ FCS Top 25, its highest of the season.

Before the Wildcats can start to celebrate, they have to face their longtime rival, Florida A&M (7-3, 6-1), which also wants to own a piece of the conference crown, Saturday in the Florida Classic in Orlando.

A lot of Bethune-Cookman's success can be credited to first-year head coach Brian Jenkins, who has turned this team into a championship-caliber contender.

Jenkins said, "We are very fortunate to win 10 games and coming out victorious. However, each game is not easy, and we don't expect FAMU to lay down for us with all these implications for both teams."

The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the conference with an average of 39.4 points a game. Meanwhile, the Rattlers are ranked No. 2 in scoring defense, allowing 14.4 points a game.

The Rattlers understand a lot rides on their final game of the season, including the conference's automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. For FAMU to secure the bid, it has to beat Bethune-Cookman and have South Carolina State (8-2, 6-1) get upset by struggling North Carolina A&T.

Legendary head coach Joe Taylor points to the magnitude of Saturday's game. "This game is immeasurable," he said. "because you get a chance to see two championship quality teams face off on Saturday fighting for their own destiny".

The Florida Classic is considered the nation's biggest black college football game. "A star-studded family affair," Jenkins calls it.

When the two programs met in Orlando last year, FAMU was a 42-6 victor. The win extended FAMU's all-time series lead to 20-10.

Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. in the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.

11/16 14:17:23 ET