BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — This year’s matchup between Southern and Grambling will mark a historic year in this rivalry series. It’s 50th annual Bayou Classic between the two teams.
There will be plenty of activities on and off the field as the Jaguars and Tigers will get together in the ‘Big Easy’ for their annual meeting on the gridiron. The series dates back to the 1930s, though the Bayou Classic as we know it wouldn’t get underway until the 1970s.
It’s known nationwide as one of the best annual games between the two HBCU programs.
Southern and Grambling will square off at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, in the Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans.
Southern and Grambling series kicks off
The rivalry between Southern and Grambling dates back to the 1932 college football season when the two schools met for the first time on the gridiron. Southern came away with a 20-0 victory in the first meeting.
In the pre-Bayou Classic era, the teams squared off in a home-and-home series, and the Jaguars led the series, 15-10.
Southern leads the all-time series against Grambling, 40-34.
The Bayou Classic was born
The Bayou Classic started during the 1974 football season as Southern and Grambling took the field against each other at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. Grambling cruised to a 21-0 victory in the first official classic.
The Bayou Classic era would deliver memorable moments for the two programs, from the first game to New Orleans to the present day.
Grambling won in the 1974-1978 seasons.
The Jaguars broke Grambling’s winning streak in 1979, edging in a 14-7 win.
After Southern got their first win on New Orleans turf, the series started to flip back and forth between the two programs.
The Bayou Classic earned national recognition in 1991 as NBC picked up the annual competition, as it still is today, according to NCAA.com.
According to the Bayou Classic’s website, the game would effectively be picked up by NBC from 1991 to 2014 before shifting to NBC Sports in 2015. The game would return to NBC during the 2021 season.
There were only two times when the Bayou Classic game wasn’t played in New Orleans.
Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city, forcing the game to another site for the first time since the move to NOLA. The game had to be played in Houston during the 2005 season.
The next time the game had to move from its usual location would be during the 2020 season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when the game was moved to Shreveport.
Southern holds the most recent win over Grambling as the Jaguars cruised to a 34-17 win in the 2022 Bayou Classic.
The Jaguars have a small lead over Grambling during the Bayou Classic series, 25-24.
Legends that participated in the Bayou Classic:
There are many legends of the sport, and some participated in this series. One of the legendary coaches who stepped on the sidelines in this matchup was Eddie Robinson Jr.
According to Grambling Athletics, Robinson became the head coach of Grambling when he was 22 years old, ahead of the 1941 season. Robinson would go down as one of the all-time best coaches, not only at Grambling, but in the entire college football landscape.
In Robinson’s tenure as the head coach for Grambling, the Tigers won 17 SWAC titles and nine Black college national championships.
Famous players to suit up for Grambling in the Bayou Classic include legendary quarterback Doug Williams, Paul “Tank” Younger, Willie Davis, Junious “Buck” Buchanan, Willie Brown, Charlie Joiner and James “Shack” Harris.
According to the Grambling Legends website, all are inductees either in the College Football Hall of Fame or the NFL Hall of Fame.
On the opposite side of the field, Southern has also produced players who have made their mark in this historic series between the two respected HBCUs.
One of the legendary coaches to step foot on the sidelines for Southern University was Pete Richardson.
According to Southern Athletics, during his tenure with the Jaguars, Richardson would go on to win five Black college national championships, 11 SWAC titles and compiled 179 victories during his 27 years as a head coach.
Iconic Jaguars who stepped on the field against Grambling include Aeneas Williams, Mel Blount, Harold Carmichael, Ken Ellis, Frank Pitts, Rufus Porter, Rich “Tombstone” Jackson and Isaiah “Butch” Robinson.