MEAC/SWAC Challenge to air in primetime on ABC for first time ever

By Kevin Kelley -

The 2023 Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff will be televised in primetime by ABC for the first time in the event’s 18-year history, ESPN has announced.

The Jackson State Tigers and the South Carolina State Bulldogs will square off in the contest in Week Zero on Saturday, Aug. 26 at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. The game will be nationally televised by ABC at 7:30pm ET.

Here is more on the matchup from the ESPN release:

The event celebrates the tradition, legacy and values of HBCUs. ESPN’s longstanding commitment to HBCUs will be on display all season long, including the Boeing Red Tails Classic (Sept. 3) on ESPNU as part of ESPN’s signature early season slate. In addition, ESPNU will regularly feature live HBCU action on select Thursdays and Fridays, as well as several Saturdays throughout the fall.

The last two MEAC/SWAC Challenge contests, Alabama State vs. Howard in 2022 and North Carolina Central vs. Alcorn State in 2021, were both played in primetime and televised by ESPN. However, ESPN has a much lower audience reach than ABC.

This season’s Jackson State-South Carolina State contest will be a rematch of the 2021 Cricket Celebration Bowl. The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers in that contest, 31-10, which was the last time the two schools met.

Jackson State will be making their third appearance in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and is winless in their previous two attempts, including their most recent appearance in 2019 against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (lost 36-15). South Carolina State holds a 3-1 record in the game, but lost to the Southern Jaguars, 14-8, in their most recent contest in 2017.

Center Parc Stadium, which has hosted the MEAC/SWAC Challenge since 2018, is the home of the Georgia State Panthers of the Sun Belt Conference. The stadium has a seating capacity of 24,333.

Future Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff Games

  • 2023 – SC State vs. Jackson State
  • 2024 – Florida A&M vs. Norfolk State
  • 2025 – Southern vs. NC Central
  • 2026 – Howard vs. Alabama A&M

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