Football Season Kicks Into High Gear Starting Thursday Night
• The 2017 campaign is in full swing this weekend as 10-of-11 teams are in action beginning on Thursday night and concluding on Sunday afternoon. Savannah State is the lone MEAC school not in action this weekend as the Tigers start play next week.
• The MEAC started the 2017 campaign on a positive note last weekend as Florida A&M defeated Texas Southern 29-7 in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPNU.
• Five MEAC teams are playing FBS opponents this week as Florida A&M plays Arkansas in Little Rock, Ark., Bethune-Cookman heads to Miami, North Carolina Central at Duke, Hampton at Ohio and Howard at UNLV.
• Norfolk State is the lone MEAC institution to host an opponent at home as Virginia State heads to Norfolk, Va. for the annual Labor Day Classic.
• The 13th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge kicks off on Sunday as Southern and South Carolina State faces off on the gridiron for the first time since the 1997 Heritage Bowl. The MEAC holds a 9-2 record in the all-time series with Southern the lone SWAC team
to win games in the series.
• Mike London makes his Howard University debut this weekend in the “City of Lights” as the Bison head to Las Vegas to face Nevada-Las Vegas.
• The MEAC is coming off a successful 2016 campaign as the league produced a pair of postseason participants in North Carolina A&T State and North Carolina Central. NCAT earned an at-large bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs while NCCU was crowned league champion and participated in the second annual Celebration Bowl.
• The MEAC was 4-31 against non-conference foes in 2016. Last year’s North Carolina A&T State’s win over Kent State on Sept. 10, 2016 was the Aggies’ first FBS win in school history and the first MEAC FBS win since Bethune-Cookman defeated C-USA’s Florida International 14-12 in 2014.
• North Carolina Central was picked to defend its MEAC Football Championship as the Eagles topped the league’s annual preseason poll. The Eagles have won three consecutive MEAC Championships as the 2016 title was their first outright title since returning to the MEAC.
• Howard University running back Anthony Philyaw was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. A 2016 All-MEAC First teamer, Philyaw was the MEAC’s second-leading rusher last fall with 1,230 yards and nine touchdowns on 222 attempts. Leonard continues South Carolina State’s strong tradition of defensive play as last season’s MEAC Defensive Player of the year honor marked the fourth consecutive season a SC State defender has earned the postseason award.
• The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced a partnership with the MEAC to reveal the league’s offensive and defensive players of the year as part of the festivities surrounding the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 5 at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York City. This marks the second consecutive year the players will be honored in New York.
• At stake once again for the MEAC Champion is a postseason berth to the 3rd annual Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, Ga. on Dec. 16 at the brand new Mercedes Benz Stadium. North Carolina Central fell to Grambling State 10-9 in 2016. The all-time bowl series featuring the MEAC and SWAC Champions stands at 1-1.