MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Saturday two champions from the Football Championship Subdivision will clash in Cramton Bowl in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff. Defending Historic Black College and University national champion North Carolina A&T will take on the four-time Ohio Valley Conference champion Jacksonville State.
"Jacksonville State is thrilled to open the season in the Guardian FCS Kickoff again in 2018," said Jacksonville State Director of Athletics Greg Seitz. "After playing in the inaugural game last year, we feel it is one of the premier events in all of FCS football and is a great stage for us to showcase our program and FCS football to a national audience."
Jacksonville State defeated UT-Chattanooga 27-13 in the inaugural Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff in 2017.
The Gamecocks have gone undefeated in the OVC every year for the last three seasons and haven't lost a conference game since November 2013. The Gamecocks' impressive run has also extended into the regular season.
According to Jacksonville State Athletics, Jacksonville State hasn't lost a regular season non-FBS game in two years, something head football coach John Grass and his program takes pride in.
"We are very proud of the streak and it goes back to the guys in the program. It has been phenomenal to make that run and you just have to continue it," said Grass. "They have enjoyed the journey and every game is important. We are not worried about the last one and we are not worried about the next one. It is more about how we play and that has been our philosophy."
It'll be tough sledding for the Aggies of North Carolina A&T as Jacksonville State returns four starters on offense and nine on defense, but it's a challenge they're up for.
"A&T looks forward to playing Jacksonville State, a program that has exemplified what it means to be a nationally-ranked top-10 team on a consistent basis," said North Carolina A&T Director of Athletics Earl Hilton.
North Carolina A&T finished the 2017 season perfect at 12-0 and won its second Celebration Bowl in three years, defeating Grambling State 21-14. It was the Aggies' sixth HBCU title in school history.
The Aggies also boast a powerful team of their own. While Jacksonville State averaged an impressive 28.8 points per game 2017, North Carolina A&T averaged 35.1 points per game.
"They are a deep football team and they return a lot of guys. They did lose a few linemen from last year, but most of their skill people are back on offense. I think the running back is an NFL back and he has been the conference player of the year the last two years. The quarterback is very athletic and can throw and run the football well. He makes very few mistakes. We have a challenge in front of us," said Grass.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. The Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff will air on ESPN.