It’s been a historic month for HBCU’s in college football lately. Jackson State already made headlines by snagging the top recruit in the nation right out of Florida State’s grasp. However, after the Peach Bowl, it seems the HBCU’s have earned themselves another victory.
On Thursday, twelfth-ranked Pittsburgh took on tenth-ranked Michigan State in the 54th edition of the Peach Bowl. Despite a significant number of opt-outs from both sides, this game was still set to be a thriller, and it was indeed. The Spartans overcame a 10-21 deficit with less than 9 minutes left to end up victorious 31-21 and claim a win in the first of this year’s New Year’s Six Bowls.
For such a thrilling matchup on one of the biggest stages of CFB Bowl Season, you would think this would be a packed house right? Wrong. This year’s bowl hosted a mediocre 41,230 fans. For reference, Mercedes-Benz Stadium seats 75,000.
Now let’s take a look at this year’s Celebration Bowl. SC State (6-5) took on a Deion Sanders-coached Jackson State (11-1) team for the 8th edition of the bowl game. Sanders was riding high and entered the stadium in style on his Aflac-themed scooter. All that would be for naught, however, as the Blue Bengals were shut down by SC State, losing 31-10. This upset was witnessed by a crowd of 48,653. That’s almost 7,000 more than one of the premiere bowl games in Football.
Here’s the kicker: The Peach Bowl had all 75,000 seats available to be purchased. The Celebration Bowl, on the other hand, closed off the entire upper deck. Because of this, the Celebration Bowl managed to sell out for the first time in its short history and even sold out again after 1,000 standing seats were made available after the initial sellout.
So, let’s review. The Peach Bowl sold just over 41,000 tickets to a game with 75,000 available. The Celebration Bowl sold 7,000 more than that with roughly 27,000 less available. Is it time for HBCU’s (and the FCS in general) to get the respect they deserve?