Tigers return to Atlanta to face rival Florida A&M
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

THE GAME

Nashville, Tenn. - The Tigers' HBCU Classic schedule resumes when Tennessee State University Football travels to Atlanta, Ga. to face long-time rival, Florida A&M, in the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic.

The match-up is scheduled for Saturday, September 25, at the Georgia Dome, with the game slated for 2:30 p.m. start.

BROADCAST COVERAGE

Television: Versus (Check local listing for station ID)

Radio: Big Blue Sports Network (WVOL 1470 AM - Nashville, Tenn. / WOJG 94.7 FM - Jackson, Tenn. / WMRB 910 AM - Columbia, Tenn.)

*Links will be available on game day

THE MATCH-UP

The Tennessee State University Tigers (1-2) and the Florida A&M Rattlers (2-1) will collide for their 51st meeting. The Tigers have met the Rattlers on the field more than any other team in the program's history, and after last year's tie breaker, holds a 24-25-1 all-time record against FAMU.

TSU has lost eight consecutive games to FAMU in the AFC; including last season's 31-12 loss. The Tigers took a 12-10 lead at the break courtesy of a strong running game.

FAMU finished the second half with 21 unanswered points while TSU's Calvin McNairl brought home his second Classic MVP of the year for his offensive performance.

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TIGERS IN ATLANTA

TSU posts a 7-15 record in Atlanta, Ga. playing three games in the Atlanta Ebony Classic and 19 in the AFC.

The Tigers hold a 2-1 record in the Atlanta Ebony Classic defeating Morgan State in their first game in the city, 14-0, in 1972. They would then win games against Florida A&M in 1976, 21-3, before dropping a 21-9 decision in 1989.

The Tigers then won the first AFC with a 20-16 win over the Rattlers in 1990 but currently holds a 4-14 record overall in the event. However, they only added two more wins against their rival since the inaugural game. The last time TSU defeated FAMU; a 27-7 decision in 2001.

Since its inception, TSU has played in every AFC except for the 1993 game while also playing South Carolina State and Southern in the Classic. Against SCSU, TSU holds the advantage (2-1) while dropping their only meeting to Southern in the Classic, 19-18.

TSU VS THE MEAC

The Tigers hold a 64-37-1 record against schools currently in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. In addition to FAMU (24-25-1), they have played Bethune-Cookman (5-1), Hampton (2-0), Howard (1-0), Morgan State (4-0), Norfolk State (1-0), North Carolina A&T (17-6), North Carolina Central (7-2), and South Carolina State (5-3).

LAST TIME OUT FOR TSU

After opening the season with a win over Alabama A&M in the John Merritt Classic, the Tigers enter the game after dropping two straight including a 26-23 loss to Austin Peay State in their conference opener at home last week. 

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TSU SLIP OUT OF THE BLACK COLLEGE RANKS

In the highly recognized Sheridan Broadcasting Network Black College Football Poll, TSU fell out of the top ten ranks after posting in at No. 5 after week one and No. 10 going in to week three.

TSU BY THE NUMBERS

TSU leads the OVC in rushing defense (121.3), kick-returns (26.3), punt return (9.9), and sacks (9).

SCOUTING FLORIDA A&M

FAMU enters the Classic on a two-game win streak after opening the season with a 45-0 loss at University of Miami.

The Rattlers have stayed on the road and thus far have not played at home in Bragg Stadium on the season. Their wins come in MEAC play picking up wins at Delaware State, 17-14, and Howard, 50-7.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Preston Brown leads TSU's ground assault after back-to-back 100-plus rushing yard games.

He currently leads the Ohio Valley Conference and ranks sixth in the nation (FCS) averaging 127.3 yards per game (4.9 yards per carry). His five touchdowns also rank first in the conference.

All-Americans and All-OVC defenders, Eugene Clifford and Rico Council, lead the defense and are the Tigers top tacklers combining for 42 stops thus far.

Clifford leads the OVC in passes defended, averaging two per game, and interceptions (2).

Among the Tigers' league leading nine sacks in week one, All-OVC Preseason selection Donte'e Nicholls and Marquez Hall hold the team leading number with two apiece.

For the Tigers special teams, Rayshawn Weatherspoon heads the league's top spot in kick-off return yardage with 30.7 yards per return. He was named OVC Special Teams Player at the end of week. Ryan Berry adds to TSU return specialist averaging an OVC best in punt return average with 9.9 yards per return.

Quarterback Martin Ukpai, who passed for 9-of-17 for 188 yards in the Rattlers 50-7 MEAC win at Howard, leads FAMU. Ukpai garnered MEAC Offensive Player of the Week honors after week two. He led the Rattlers to their first conference win of the season with a 17-14 victory over Delaware State connecting on 12-of-27 passes for 161 yards with two touchdowns. Ukpai's 50-yard pass to Brian Tymes sealed the Rattlers three-point win.

After week three of the season, Preseason All-MEAC selections, offensive lineman, Chris Sands (Second Team) and defensive back Qier Hall (First Team) received conference honors.

Sands was named Lineman of the Week and Hall was selected Defensive Player of the Week. Hall recorded six total tackles, four solo, with one for a loss in the win over Howard.  He also forced and recovered a fumble returning it 30-yards for his first career touchdown.

Other notable players include MEAC preseason first team selections: running back, Philip Sylvester; wide receiver, Isaac West; linebacker, Alvis Graham; and kicker, Trevor Scott. Wide receiver, Kevin Scott, and defensive back, Curtis Holcomb, were named to the second team.

On special teams, punter, Brandon Holdren, spotlights the Rattlers with a conference best, 40.9 yards per punt. He was named Special Teams Player of the Week after the second game of the year after posting six punts for 250 yards (41.7 avg.) with his longest boot for 60 yards in the Rattlers' conference opening win over DSU.  He also placed two punts inside the 20 and posted two touchbacks.