BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Football is more than a game in the southeast, and you’d be hard pressed to find a state more dedicated to the spectacle that is a rivalry game than Alabama.
Every Fall, fans from around the southeast congregate in Birmingham for a rivalry game second only to the Iron Bowl…and that’s if you’re asking an Alabama or Auburn fan, especially when it comes to pride and bragging rights.
For many, the Classic is the most anticipated event of the year, and not just for fans. It is the biggest game storied Legion Field hosts every year, and this year is the 75th anniversary of the Classic between Alabama A&M and Alabama State. Unlike a lot of rivalries, this one is very even…almost dead even, with both teams are coming in with identical 2-5 records, 2-4 in conference play, and coming off conference wins. State leads the SWAC in rushing; the Dogs are second. You won’t find a more-closely matched game than this one.
Alabama A&M head football coach James Spady explained, “We try and direct them away from all the logistical things, but it will happen to them with 70-something-thousand people in the stands…there is gonna probably be some butterflies, so don’t deny it, just embrace it and harness the energy.”
The mental discipline pf the players is an important aspect to winning such a tightly matched game, especially with all the surrounding distractions.
“We are gonna have to bring our “A” game [and] make sure we do all of our fundamentals well, and make sure we play for four quarters. And the number one thing is being able to handle adversity and turn it around to success,” State coach Brian Jenkins said. “Those are some key things that are going to be needed for us to come out victorious, but I can guarantee you, we are gonna show up, we are ready–we are ready to play this game and show out.”
Alabama A&M owned the rivalry in the mid 2000s, winning 10 out of 11 games. Last year, State won 35-20.
Kickoff is at 3 p.m. at Legion Field. WIAT CBS42 is out there on the scene.
If you’re headed to tailgate and plan to attend the Classic this afternoon, keep in mind Legion Field has a new clear bag policy and list of prohibited items. But don’t worry–we’ve got a list of everything you need to know here.