Sanders aims for Celebration win in Jackson State farewell

Celebration Bowl: Jackson State (12-0) vs. North Carolina Central (9-2), Saturday, Noon EST (ABC)

FanDuel Sportsbook College Line: Jackson State by 15 1/2

Series record: Jackson State leads 3-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

North Carolina Central is trying to win its first HBCU national championship since 2006 and become the third team in school history to win 10 or more games. … Eagles coach Trei Oliver was an assistant on teams that won 10 games in 2005 and 11 in 2006. … Jackson State is looking to wrap up its first undefeated season in its final game under coach Deion Sanders, who has been hired as Colorado’s coach. … The Tigers are playing for their first Celebration Bowl win and first HBCU national championship since 1996.

KEY MATCHUP

North Carolina Central QB Davis Richard vs. Jackson State’s defense. Richard, the MEAC offensive player of the year, leads the Eagles with 691 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns while passing for 2,486 yards and 24 TDs. The Eagles rank sixth among FCS teams by averaging 38.4 points. Jackson State leads FCS in seven defensive categories, including its averages of 11.2 points and 233.2 yards allowed per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

North Carolina Central: Junior safety Khalil Baker had four interceptions this season and was named the MEAC defensive player of the year. Baker had 51 tackles, including two for losses, and returned one interception 33 yards for a touchdowns.

Jackson State: QB Shedeur Sanders, son of “Coach Prime,” was the SWAC’s offensive player of the year and is following his father to Colorado. Shedeur Sanders completed 31 of 44 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in the Tigers’ 43-24 win over Southern for the SWAC championship. It was the young Sanders’ fourth four-TD game and fourth game with more than 300 passing yards this season.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) holds a 5-1 edge over the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in the game featuring teams from historically Black college and universities. … South Carolina State beat Jackson State 31-10 in last year’s game. … The Tigers won the last game between the teams, 10-9, in 1987. … The conferences will return to Atlanta to open the 2023 season when Jackson State plays South Carolina State in the Cricket MEAC-SWAC Challenge.

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