Home Local News Orange Blossom Classic returns to Miami | Sports

Orange Blossom Classic returns to Miami | Sports


Miami quarterback D’Eriq King during practice in preparation for the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic.

College football is back this weekend and Hard Rock Stadium will see large swaths of orange and green in the stands with a game on Sunday. But those colors won’t be from the University of Miami – they’ll be representing the Florida A&M University Rattlers.

First, let’s talk about the #14 ranked team in the nation, the UM Hurricanes, which will open things up in a nationally televised Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Their opponent will be none other than the defending national champions, #1 Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide are coming off a spectacular season going undefeated and winning a national championship, ending their season victorious in Hard Rock Stadium. Now with a retooled roster, many will see if this is a reload or a rebuild season.

The Hurricanes are not favored in this game as an 18-point underdog, but they look to shock the college football world by pulling off an upset. Led by returning quarterback D’Eriq King, wide receiver Mike Harley and standout players on the defensive side including Zach McCloud, Jon Ford, Amari Carter and Kamren Kinchens – an incoming freshman from Miami Northwestern – the Hurricanes look to prove that they belong in the discussion for a playoff spot at the end of the year and to play in games that matter in January 2022.

The game is set for Saturday, Sept. 4, with kickoff at 3:30 p.m. at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The game will also be televised on ABC.

The Orange Blossom Classic is back


Florida A&M University is set to renew a historic game in the Orange Blossom Classic (OBC). Not played since 1978, the OBC has been on a long hiatus. The comeback was delayed one year due to the pandemic, but there will be a flood of orange and green in Miami this Labor Day holiday weekend when the Rattlers of Florida A&M face-off against Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and the Jackson State Tigers. This event was reestablished to enhance the exposure of historically Black colleges and universities.

In 1933, the OBC was founded by J.R.E. Lee Jr., the son of Florida A&M University’s president. From 1933-1978, it was the must-see game of the college football season. Hosted by the Rattlers for many years, it was considered the unofficial de facto Black college championship game. For 13 years, the match moved around the Florida cities of Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa before becoming an annual event in Miami in 1947.

During the first game in Miami on Dec. 6, 1947, a racial milestone was met as Black fans were permitted in the main stands of the Orange Bowl. A Rattler receiver named Nathaniel “Traz” Powell became the first Black man to score a touchdown on the Orange Bowl’s previously whites-only field during the game.

This event will be televised on ESPN 2. The OBC will highlight HBCUs and the roles that they play in educating aspiring young Black professionals and developing our future leaders.

This matchup also will count as a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) game and will be the season opener for both programs. Jacksonville Sate University’s vice president and director of athletics, Ashley Robinson, stated: “We are very excited about playing Florida A&M in the 2021 Orange Blossom Classic, it’s going to be a great way to officially welcome FAMU into the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Our student-athletes are going to love the experience of playing in Miami.”

Hard Rock Stadium

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., where the 2021 Orange Blossom Classic will be played.

With the addition of Sanders to the HBCU landscape, it will help HBCUs gain the exposure needed to raise the profile of schools such as Jackson State and other historically Black colleges and universities.


“We’re going to fight and do our darndest to start changing the landscape of HBCU football. Then, consequently, we can go to the next step and the next level. The fight is not going to be easy,” said Sanders. “Getting the players to commit to a historically Black college is not easy because you’ve got to level the playing field. You’re competing against a Power Five that has 100 times more resources than we do, and the exposure.”

With events like the OBC and “College GameDay” hosting its show to cover the MEAC vs .SWAC Challenge last week, the pieces are in place to make sure that HBCUs get the exposure they need. Hopefully there will soon be HBCU games on national television.

The game is set for Sunday, September 5, with kickoff at 3:00 p.m. at the Hardrock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL and will be televised on ESPN 2.

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