By Bradford Brooks
The Teams and how they got there
Grambling State Tigers (11-1)
The defending 2016 Celebration Bowl champions, Grambling State Tigers, were able to cap enough another great season by finishing their regular season with a record of a 11-1.
The Tigers were able to capture back to back SWAC championship by defeating Alcorn State in the SWAC conference championship game 40 to 32. The Tigers are led by their high powered offense which is orchestrated by the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, Senior Quarterback Devante Kincade and All SWAC First team Running Back Martez Carter.
The Tigers are currently ranked number 12 overall in the FCS Coaches Poll and are averaging 32.67 points per game and 373.9 total yards per game on offensive. Not only does Grambling have playmakers on the offensive, but they also have studs on the defensive, like star Linebacker and the 2017 SWAC defensive player of the Year De’Arius Christmas.
The Grambling defense has been able to force a turnover in every game this season except two.
The Grambling State Tigers who will also be coached by SWAC Coach of the Year Broderick Fobbs are coming into this game hot and confident as the Tigers have won 11 straight games since their season open lose to Tulane and have also been able to register 21 straight wins against FCS opponents.
North Carolina A&T Aggies (11-0)
No Tarik Cohen, no problem. Coming into this season there were many questions about the Aggies of North Carolina A&T and would they be able to keep up their recent success after losing a big senior class and former three time MEAC Offensive player of the year and current Chicago Bear dynamic running back, Tarik Cohen.
However all those questions and concerns vanished as the Aggies captured their first ever undefeated regular season in MEAC history finishing the year 11-0.
The Aggies won the inaugural celebration Bowl back in 2015 and will look to capture another as they travel to Atlanta with the number one ranked scoring offense in the MEAC which has averaged just over 36 points per game.
The Aggie offense will also have Senior Quarterback and MEAC Offensive player of the Year, Lamar Raynard and their big play all conference Wide Receiver Elijah Bell at their disposal.
This offense has been able to be number one in the MEAC in pass efficiency and total passing yards this season.
A&T is coming into this game ranked at the number 7 in the nation in the FCS Coaches Poll. The team holds studs all over the roster as they were able to capture 12 of 25 spots on the MEAC all conference first teams.
Rod Broadway’s team also has a shutdown defense that was able to finish the season as the number one scoring defense, number one in rushing defense, and number one in total defense in the MEAC.
Saturday Dec 16, 2017 (Noon ET on ABC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)
Last year The Grambling State Tigers were able to win the Celebration Bowl in a low scoring game by a score of 10 to 9 over North Carolina Central.
However don’t expect that to be the case this year in this game. Look forward to seeing two very high powered offenses trade jabs with each other in a high scoring shootout in Atlanta.
The keys to victory for the Aggies are quite simple. They have to remain balanced and efficient with their offense by first controlling the offensive line led by Senior and FCS all American Left Tackle Brandon Parker and they must establish a running game with running back Marquell Cartwright.
Quarterback Lamar Raynard will also have to continue to protect the football as he will be going against a good Grambling secondary.
For the Tigers the keys will be to create pressure on the defensive side of the ball and look to force turnovers as they have done so all season.
The Tigers will also need to create running lanes and opportunities for its two elite playmakers in Quarterback Devante Kincade and speedy Running Back Martez Carter which will be facing a stout A&T defense.
Overall this should be a very entertaining game, the x factor in this game will be the Aggies special team unit led by FCS all-time leading return man Kris Gardin. Look for both of these teams to trade blows but ultimately the Aggies of North Carolina A&T will win and capture the second ever Celebration Bowl title this Saturday when they defeat Grambling.
Prediction: Aggies 42, Tigers 31