The Bayou Classic is an annual football showdown between two powerhouse Louisiana HBCUs: Southern University in Baton Rouge and Grambling State University in Grambling. When the Classic first began, it started out as just a simple rivalry between the two schools. However, it quickly morphed into more than that: one of the highlights of the football calendar, a week-long celebration, and one of the largest African American gatherings in the United States.
History of the Bayou Classic
The legendary rivalry between Southern and Grambling began almost a century ago, all the way back in 1932 in Monroe, Louisiana. However, the first official “Bayou Classic” was held in 1974, 42 years later, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fast forward to this Saturday, November 26, the 49th annual Bayou Classic’s kickoff will be held at the Caesars Superdome, home to the New Orleans Saints. To make this Classic even more memorable, the series record is currently tied at 24-24 – Grambling won the first five editions of the “official” Classic (1974 – 1978) and the most recent edition, in 2021. The stakes are higher than ever, making this matchup one of the most interesting Classics in history. The essential question: “Who will take it all?”
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What to know about the 2022 Bayou Classic
With the big tie breaker out in front, the plot thickens with a possible cherry on top for the Jags. Southern (6-4, 4-3) is somehow back in the running for the SWAC West title – they sit second in the conference behind Prairie View (6-5, 5-3), despite an up-and-down season and a shutout loss to Texas Southern (5-6, 4-4) in September. The race for the SWAC West has been incredibly tight. After an unexpected set of losses by Prairie View to Mississippi Valley, 27-7, and Texas Southern to Alabama A&M, 24-20, in Week 12, if Southern wins, they will not only take home the 49th Bayou Classic, but they will also be SWAC West champions. All fans know that the records are far from the most important thing: the true winner is whoever wins the Classic (but a spot at the top of the Western Division is never a bad thing).
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Southern’s season started off great with an exceptional 86-0 win over Florida Memorial. Unfortunately, the following week they fell short, 65-17, to their crosstown rivals, LSU, in a loss that seemingly sapped the Jags of their motivation. However, the game that really hit hard was that 24-0 loss against Texas Southern, which dropped Southern to 1-2. The Jags were still able to regain composure, going on a four-game winning streak until facing SWAC East champions, Jackson State, for a 35-0 loss in October. That was followed by another loss to Florida A&M University (FAMU), 30-16. But Southern bounced back with a 27-7 win over Mississippi Valley State to regain momentum entering the Classic.
Grambling (3-5, 2-7) on the other hand started off the season much rockier, losing six of their first seven games. However, they were able to get things together for two games (wins against Alcorn State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff) before visiting Texas Southern, where they lost 41-7. With the highly-motivated Jaguars as their next opponents, Grambling knows they have a tough task to complete, but they are definitely not going to let up.
For both teams, many will argue there is something greater than the SWAC West championship at stake: it’s those historic bragging rights. Grambling, who has had quite the challenging season, would want nothing more but to upset Southern and up-end their hopes for the SWAC West championship, bringing the bragging rights back up to North Louisiana along the way. When it comes to the Bayou Classic, records don’t tell the whole story. It’s all about pride, history, and Legacy. The team that wants it more shall be the victor.
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The game has quickly changed from two rivals fighting for bragging rights into one of them fighting for it all. A game of pride and status between the two schools has become a game of possibilities for Southern, giving Grambling the ultimate chance to become the spoiler.
For both teams the mission is clear. For Grambling: win the game, hold on to the bragging rights. For Southern: win the game, win the championship, win it all. Both teams are going in head-first to complete their missions by any means necessary.
For fans, this is definitely a game to remember. As for all SWAC, Southern, and Grambling fans, let us remember that a little competition is good for the soul. No matter the outcome, it’s all SWAC love!
How to Watch the 2022 Bayou Classic
Southern and Grambling will face off Saturday, November 27th at 2pm ET on NBC and Peacock. Halftime of Saturday’s game will include a presentation of the Battle of the Bands, the celebrated tradition between the Southern and Grambling State marching bands.
Author’s Note: Kynnedi Jackson is a junior, aspiring sportswriter and broadcaster currently studying Mass Communication with a focus in Public Relations at Southern University. She began her journey with sports media back in ninth grade within her school’s media department. She now works as an editor and journalist for the school newspaper, Southern Digest. You can follow her on Instagram @kynnedisharee or read her articles on southerndigest.com