The Bayou Classic is an annual soccer showdown between two Louisiana HBCU powerhouses: Southern University at Baton Rouge and Grambling State University at Grambling. When the Classic first started, it was just a simple rivalry between the two schools. However, it quickly grew 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 Southern-Grambling rivalry began nearly a century ago, in 1932 in Monroe, Louisiana. However, the first official “Bayou Classic” took place in 1974, 42 years later, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fast forward to this Saturday, November 26th, the kickoff of the 49th Annual Bayou Classic will be held at Caesars Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints. To make this classic even more memorable, the series record currently stands at 24-24 – Grambling won the first five editions of the ‘official’ classic (1974 – 1978) and the last edition in 2021. The stakes are higher than ever what makes this matchup one of the most interesting classics in history. The crucial question: “Who takes everything?”
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Things to know about the 2022 Bayou Classic
With the big tie breaker up front, the action thickens with potential icing on the cake for the Jags. Southern (6-4, 4-3) is somehow back in contention for the SWAC West title – sitting second in the conference behind Prairie View (6-5, 5-3) despite a season of ups and downs a shutout loss to Texas Southern (5-6, 4-4) in September. The SWAC West race was incredibly close. After an unexpected string of losses from Prairie View to Mississippi Valley, 27-7, and Texas Southern to Alabama A&M, 24-20, in Week 12, if Southern wins, not only will they 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 real winner is whoever wins the Classic (but a place at the top of the Western Division is never a bad thing).
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Southern’s season got off to a great start with an exceptional 86-0 win over Florida Memorial. Unfortunately, the following week they fell 65-17 to their crosstown rivals, LSU, in a loss that seemed to sap the Jags’ motivation. However, the game that really hit hard was the 24-0 loss to Texas Southern, which dropped Southern to 2-1. Still able to regain their composure, the Jags were on a four-game winning streak until a 35-0 defeat of SWAC East champions Jackson State in October. Another loss to Florida A&M University (FAMU) followed, 30-16. But Southern bounced back with a 27-7 win over Mississippi Valley State to regain momentum in the Classic.
Grambling (3-5, 2-7), on the other hand, had a much rockier start to the season, losing six of their first seven games. They did, however, pull together for two games (wins over 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 job to do, but they definitely won’t let up.
Many will argue that something bigger than the SWAC West championship is at stake for both teams: it’s those historic braggart rights. Grambling, having had a pretty challenging season, would want nothing more than to upset Southern and dashed their SWAC West Championship hopes by taking the braggart rights en route back to northern Louisiana. 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 should be the winner.
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The game has quickly transitioned from two rivals fighting for bragging rights to one of them fighting for everything. A game of pride and status between the two schools has become a game of odds for Southern, giving Grambling the ultimate chance to become a spoiler.
The mission is clear for both teams. For Grambling: Win the game, keep the bragging rights. For Southern: win the game, win the championship, win it all. Both teams go headlong to complete their missions by any means necessary.
For fans, this is definitely a game to remember. For all SWAC, Southern and Grambling fans, let’s remember that a little competition is good for the soul. Whatever the outcome, it’s all SWAC love!
Southern and Grambling clash on NBC and Peacock on Saturday, November 27 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Halftime in Saturday’s game will be 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 young aspiring sportswriter and broadcaster currently studying Mass Communications with a major in Public Relations at Southern University. She began her journey with sports media in ninth grade in 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