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FAMU is heading to the FCS football playoffs after a big win over Bethune Cookman

A football quarterback in a green jersey right after throwing. His arm is mid-motion.
Will Brown
Used with Permission
Florida A&M quarterback Rasean McKay has led the Rattlers to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time in 2001. (Photo by Will Brown)

For the first time in five years, a Black college football team is going to the FCS playoffs. Florida A&M University scored a blowout victory over its nemesis, Bethune Cookman University at this past weekend’s Florida Classic.

That victory has catapulted the Rattlers into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. FAMU also has the distinction of being the last Historically Black College to win an FCS playoff game in 1999.

This is FAMU’s first year in the Southwestern Athletic Conference—a division that usually does not participate in the FCS playoffs. The Rattlers are among the 13 schools that received an at-large spot.

"We finished this regular season 9 -2 on an eight-game winning streak and if a playoff committee doesn’t feel that we’re one of the Top 24 teams in America, then we need to look at this system because it's obviously broken if we don’t get in," said head coach Willie Simmons, following FAMU's 41-26 trouncing of the Bethune Cookman Wildcats during the Florida Classic.

That win also broke FAMU's nine-game losing streak to the Wildcats.

"I think it looks good for us as a conference. It will add some validity to everything that's going on," said Wildcats head coach Terry Sims. "I'm excited about it. No, I am not happy we lost the game but I am good with them getting a playoff spot and going to see what happens in the playoffs for them."

For years HBCU's have been at a disadvantage when it comes to getting at-large playoff bids. The domination of FAMU, and Jackson State—which is led by NFL Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders—has drawn more attention to the competitiveness of Black college football.

Jackson State is 10-1, and one of FAMU's losses was to JSU.

The Rattlers will play Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, LA this Saturday. The university is also the only HBCU to ever win an FCS national championship.

*Freelancer Will Brown contributed to this report.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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