Every fall, thousands of college football fans travel across the country to support their favorite HBCU teams. A record number of football fans attended HBCU Classics this year, and five HBCU Football Classics made our list based on attendance in 2017. Whether you’re interested in the marching bands, dance teams, or contentious football games that set HBCU Classics apart from regular season games, these stats will show you why black college football is one of the most popular sports at historically black colleges and universities.
Top 5 HBCU Football Classics
5. Southern Heritage Classic: 47,407 Fans
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN, Sept. 9, 2017
Tennessee State beats Jackson State, 17-15
The Southern Heritage Classic earned the final spot on our list, with more than 47,000 fans in attendance. Tennessee State University beat Jackson State University for the sixth time in a row in a contentious match at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Jackson State University ended the season at (3-8) overall, while Tennessee State University finished the season at (6-5) overall.
Fun fact: In 1997, the Southern Heritage Classic had a record attendance of 61,171 fans at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, TN.
4. Florida Classic: 47,819 Fans
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL, Nov. 18, 2017
BCU wins against FAMU, 29-24
The Florida Classic earned the #4 spot on our list for 2017, with more than 47,000 fans in attendance. Bethune-Cookman University beat Florida A&M University for the seventh time in a row, which has raised concerns among football fans and FAMU staff regarding the future of head coach Alex Wood. Bethune-Cookman University finished the season at (7-4) overall, while Florida A&M University ended at (3-8) overall.
Fun fact: Florida A&M University has the longest winning streak in Florida Classic history (19 games in a row).
3. State Fair Classic: 55,231 Fans
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX, Oct. 7, 2017
Grambling State beats Prairie View A&M, 34-21
Approximately 55,000 football fans attended the State Fair Classic in Dallas, TX to watch the Grambling State University Tigers square off against the Prairie View A&M University Panthers. Grambling State University scored a decisive victory against Prairie View A&M University after their offense scored more than 30 points in the first half of the game. Prairie View A&M finished the season at (6-5) overall.
Fun fact: The State Fair Classic is the largest Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) football game in Texas.
2. Magic City Classic: 61,221 Fans
Legion Field, Birmingham, AL, Oct. 29, 2017
Alabama State wins game against Alabama A&M, 21-16
The Magic City Classic earned the #2 spot on our list of the top 5 HBCU football classics in 2017. The Alabama State University Hornets beat the Bulldogs as more than 60,000 football fans watched from the stands.
The Magic City Classic win was a huge achievement for the Hornets, who lost the first five games of the season. Alabama State University ended the season at (5-6) overall, while Alabama A&M University ended the season at (4-7) overall.
Fun fact: Alabama State University and Alabama A&M have competed in the Magic City Classic every year since 1945.
1. Bayou Classic: 66,550 Fans
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA, Nov. 24, 2017
Grambling State beats Southern, 30-21
More than 60,000 football fans came to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to watch the Tigers beat the Jaguars at the 44th Annual Bayou Classic. Grambling State University was in danger of losing the game, but Martez Carter’s 11-yard touchdown led to their game-winning comeback in the fourth quarter.
Grambling State University went on to play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship against Alcorn State University, where they won 40-32. Grambling State University also beat Alcorn State University 27-20 in the 2016 championship. The Tigers ended the season at (11-1) overall, while Southern University ended at (7-4) overall.
Fun fact: The Bayou Classic (which is also known as the “Black Super Bowl”) has been nationally televised since 1991.