The MEAC champion South Carolina State Bulldogs culminated their football season by upsetting the Jackson State Tigers 31-10 to win the Celebration Bowl.
The Celebration Bowl was established in 2015 as a postseason showcase that pitted the MEAC football champions against the SWAC champions. The MEAC came into this game with a 4-1 record (all by North Carolina A&T) including three wins in a row.
Jackson State entered as the massive favorite, holding an overall record of 11-1 riding a nine-game win streak and an 11-game win streak against FCS opponents.
The Tigers punched their ticket to the Celebration Bowl by defeating the Prairie View A&M Panthers 27-10 in the SWAC championship game their first conference title since 2007.
Meanwhile, South Carolina State won the MEAC championship after finishing the regular season with a 6-5 record including a perfect 5-0 in conference play.
After a slow start, South Carolina State began to take over the game fueled by a forced fumble by defensive lineman Patrick Godbolt on the Tigers quarterback and Jerry Rice award winner Shedeur Sanders.
Bulldogs quarterback Corey Fields dominated through the air, accounting for four touchdowns on just 12 completions.
The 31 points allowed by Jackson State’s defense, the third-best scoring defense at just 13.5 points per game, is the most it allowed all season. The Tigers were out of sync for the entire second half unable to get stops consistently against South Carolina State.
The offensive line of the Tigers was also lacking unable to contain the pressure coming from South Carolina State’s defensive line give their quarterback any time in the pocket to make a play downfield.
South Carolina State’s secondary was engaged all game as well, forcing two interceptions and contained Jackson State’s vertical passing game.