NEW ORLEANS, La. (BRPROUD) – The 50th annual matchup between Southern University and Grambling State University known as the Bayou Classic is just days away. 

Officials say this moment is one of the biggest financial drivers for not only the city of New Orleans but the two universities.

For many, it’s a family rivalry that brings north and south Louisiana together.

“It’s a football game, but the number one thing is to heighten the awareness of the value of HBCUs in this academic world,” said Congressman Troy Carter, Louisiana District 2.

Carter said the Bayou Classic is a fundraising event that impacts our local and state economy, and both schools. Ticket sales help fund equipment, books, and technology.

“It’s to augment the tuition and other federal grants that we fight so hard to bring to our HBCU,” said Carter.

Nikole Roebuck is the first female Director of Bands at Grambling. She said all eyes will be on two of the best HBCU bands across the world.

“This is more than music to me. It’s about making sure that my students, when they leave me, are contributing members of society,” said Roebuck.

For Rick Gallot, it’s his final Bayou Classic as the President of Grambling. He said the historic game brings in over $50 million and more than 250,000 people to New Orleans.

“You know, we certainly, as you know, both universities are looking to capitalize on that and to be able to bring as much revenue back to our respective institutions,” said Gallot.

President Dennis Shields of Southern University said this game is about legacy and tradition. It will give students an experience that will live on forever.

“This whole weekend full of events is going to have a major impact on our ability to support students, which is our core mission,” said Shields.

Dr. Kedric Taylor, who once marched for the Human Jukebox, now leads the way as the band director.

He said although America is experiencing financial hardships due to inflation, they’re still expecting a big turnout.

“Everybody’s looking forward to it, you know, so it is a game going on, but without those bands, a part of the atmosphere, you know, the culture won’t be the same,” said Taylor.

Carter said it’s a win-win for everybody.

“My prediction is that all winners, there’s a contest, but the contest isn’t over after the game. The contest continues as we continue to educate young people and build them for a brighter future because the battle is on the field. But it’s won in the classroom,” said Carter.

Both presidents have one last message.

“Don’t meet me there. Beat me there,” said Gallot.

In the words of Shields, “Go Jags.”

Now, leading up to the big game, there will be several events starting on Thanksgiving with the parade. Of course, on Friday, the Battle of the Bands and the Greek Steps Show.

The big matchup is on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. CST inside the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

For a deeper dive into the history of the Bayou Classic and a preview of what’s to come this weekend, tune into our hour-long special this Saturday at noon.