An Early MEAC/SWAC Challenge Preview Predicts The Conference To Hold Up The ‘They’re Not Like Us’ Banner First

Predicting who will draw first blood in the 2024 MEAC/SWAC Challenge.


HBCU football will have the crowds thrilled in 2024 with the marching bands blaring out Kendrick Lamar’s anthem, “They’re Not Like Us,” each week! Before crowning the new 2024 HBCU Football National Champions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in December, we must first kick-off the 2024 MEAC/SWAC Challenge between Florida A&M and Norfolk State at Center Parc Stadium on Aug. 24.


Who will be the ones holding of the “They’re Not Like Us” banner after the annual HBCU Football Kick-Off game?




In 2023, the Southwestern Athletic Conference erased the nightmares with its first-ever MEAC/SWAC Challenge and Celebration Bowl sweep against the MEAC. This significant achievement sets the stage and builds anticipation for future interconference games between the SWAC and MEAC.


A weather stoppage in the second quarter placed an asterisk on the 2016 MEAC/SWAC Challenge, as Alcorn State led 13-7 over Bethune-Cookman. Later that year, Grambling State slipped by NCCU, 10-9, presenting the SWAC with its first Celebration Bowl trophy.


Last season’s thrilling victories for the SWAC started as the Jackson State Tigers opened the season, roaring to a 37-7 win over the South Carolina Bulldogs in the 2023 MEAC/SWAC Challenge.


Coach Willie Simmons led the Florida A&M Rattlers in a 30-26 nail-biter over Howard Bison, emerging as the 2023 Celebration Bowl victors and 2023 HBCU National Championship title holders.




With Willie Simmons’s departure to Duke University, Coach James Colzie III took over the reins at FAMU, heralding a new era of leadership for the team. Meanwhile, seasoned HBCU football coach Dawson Odums is gearing up for a crucial fourth season as the Spartans’ leader. The 2024 MEAC/SWAC Challenge game between these teams carries significant weight — primarily Norfolk State.


It’s a pivotal season for Coach Odums (75-64) with the Spartans, who have struggled with an 11-23 record and only one winning season since his arrival. 2024 presents a golden opportunity for Norfolk State to overcome past difficulties and set a new tone by triumphing over FAMU.




The 2024 MEAC/SWAC Challenge kicks off with an Ol’ MEAC match-up, as the new-look Florida A&M Rattlers face an unpredictable Norfolk State Spartans team. Next, Coach Odums will lead NSU with a tough assignment against East Carolina in Greenville.


NSU returns home for two contests with Virginia State and Hampton before traveling to Lexington, Virginia, to battle the Virginia Military Institute. However, the Spartans’ schedule starts to get tricky.


NCCU and NSU will play in the Circle City Classic on Sept. 28 in Indianapolis before a match with Sacred Heart on Oct. 5, returning to welcome Towson on Oct. 12.


The Spartans will have their final four games against MEAC foes from Howard, Morgan State, Delaware State, and South Carolina State.



  • Florida A&M – L
  • East Carolina – L
  • Virginia State – W
  • Hampton – L
  • Virginia Military – W
  • North Carolina Central – L
  • Sacred Heart – L
  • Towson – W
  • Howard – L
  • Morgan State – L
  • Delaware State – W
  • South Carolina State – L


I hope to be wrong about the Spartans’ conference record. Coach Odums needs the quarterback position to be more stable in Norfolk. The offensive uncertainty combined with late defensive lapses brings unpredictable outcomes. Especially if they are confronting the well-prepared teams coached by Trei Oliver (NCCU), Larry Scott (Howard), Damon Wilson (Morgan State), and Chennis Berry (South Carolina State).




Coach Colzie takes over the 2023 HBCU National Championship team, which may have identified its starting signal-caller. FAMU may be vulnerable to the Spartans in the season opener, but it still projects to be winnable for the reigning champs.


An early test arrives as Colzie matches wits with South Carolina State head coach Chennis Berry in Tallahassee on Aug. 31. Berry will make his Bragg Memorial Stadium debut as a head coach.


The Rattlers hit the road to face the Miami Hurricanes (Sept. 7) and Troy Trojans (Sept. 21). Coach Colzie’s new crew will begin a slate of three straight SWAC East battles at home against Alabama A&M (Sept. 28), then motoring to Alabama State (Oct. 5) and Jackson State (Oct. 19).


Florida A&M confronts three SWAC West foes in the following weeks as they welcome the Southern Jaguars (Oct. 26) and Texas Southern Tigers (Nov. 2) for visits to Tallahassee. The following week calls for a SWAC Championship rematch in Texas against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 9.


FAMU’s 2024 football campaign concludes with games at home with the Delta Devils from Mississippi Valley State at home on Nov. 16. Finally, the annual rivalry game between the Rattlers and Bethune-Cookman is set to take place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, Nov. 23.



  • Norfolk State – W
  • South Carolina State – L
  • Miami – L
  • Troy – L
  • Alabama A&M – W
  • Alabama State – L
  • Jackson State – L
  • Southern – W
  • Texas Southern – W
  • Prairie View A&M – L
  • Mississippi Valley State – W
  • Bethune-Cookman – W


Losses to Jackson State and Alabama State could be problematic for the Rattlers, who hope to return to the SWAC Championship. It will be a stabilizing season for the rookie head coach and his team. However, it’s the WACKY SWAC, and the Rattlers could be a nuisance for some title hopefuls.




Florida A&M will start the season with a “dub,” and Norfolk State will keep searching for answers.


  • Florida A&M 17, Norfolk State 12
  • SWAC (1-0), MEAC (0-1)
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