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Celebration Bowl: Florida A&M vs. Howard: Expert Pick and Prediction – December 16, 2023

Celebration Bowl: Florida A&M vs. Howard Expert Pick and Prediction – December 16, 2023

CELEBRATION BOWL: FLORIDA A&M VS. HOWARD EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – December 16, 2023 — The one hole left on Willie Simmons’ resume is an HBCU national championship, and the Florida A&M coach has the chance to fix that here.

Simmons was denied the chance in 2019 because of sanctions against the Rattlers, who had to watch a North Carolina A&T team they beat claim the championship in their absence. He’s never failed to have a winning season, and in five years in Tallahassee, he’s gone 32-5 against HBCU universities.

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Standing in his path is Howard, which doesn’t bring a record but has certainly tested itself. The Bison played two FBS teams, battling Eastern Michigan hard for three quarters and playing Northwestern to a field goal difference. Howard brings the MEAC’s top pass defense, which might make life difficult for Florida A&M quarterback Jeremy Moussa.

This game has been dominated by the MEAC, as six of seven meetings between the league champions have gone to the MEAC representative. But the SWAC hasn’t had a champion as well prepared as the Rattlers for several seasons, which might have the pendulum swinging in their direction.

The Odds

Matchup Open Spread Points Moneyline

(6-5 SU, 4-5 ATS)

O47.5  +7 O47.5 +210
Florida A&M

(11-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) 

-7 -7 U47.5 -280


When: Saturday, December 16th at Noon EST

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta


Public Bets: Unavailable

Public Money: Unavailable

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of December 6th, 2023.

Florida A&M vs. Howard In-Season Trends

Florida A&M scoring has been a good bet all season. The Rattlers have not scored less than 23 points all season, and they reached 28 points nine times in 12 games. Of the three exceptions, one came against FBS South Florida (FAMU’s only loss), defensive-minded Alabama State (which gave up a season-high 23 to the Rattlers) and Bethune-Cookman, in which the Rattlers played a clock-bleeding game with their rivals struggling.

That could be a problem for Howard, which has been far more inconsistent. The Bison played six games out of conference, and the only one they held under 19 points was Robert Morris. Against the likes of Harvard and Hampton, the Bison couldn’t get stops, conceding 35 to Hampton and 48 to Harvard.


Weather won’t play a role here, as the roof can close at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Difference-Makers

Florida A&M has mostly counted on the arm of Jeremy Moussa, but in this game, the Rattlers might lean more heavily on Terrell Jennings. Jennings is the main back among a stable of runners for FAMU, and Howard’s suspect run defense makes him the likely choice to carry the Rattlers’ offense if Moussa struggles.

Like his team’s defense, Howard quarterback Quinton Williams has been more inconsistent. In the de facto MEAC title game against North Carolina Central, Williams was dynamite, throwing for 277 yards and three scores. But he struggled in a loss to South Carolina State and needed the defense to bail him out against Morgan State, as he threw for under 200 yards in both games.

The Pick

The SWAC’s recent struggles likely relate to the fact that the past two Celebration Bowls saw Jackson State and Deion Sanders representing the league. Two years ago, Sanders hadn’t prepared his team for a step up in competition, and last season, he clearly had his mind on Colorado against a focused North Carolina Central.

Florida A&M and Simmons should have no such issues. This represents the chance they were denied in 2019, when they were clearly the best HBCU in the nation. They’re right up there again, and they have the record to match. Howard’s defense isn’t consistent enough to count on here. The MEAC’s streak finally ends here.

Dan’s Picks  

 Florida A&M -7

 Over 47.5 

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  • Dan Angell, Contributor

    Dan is originally from Virginia and has covered basketball games across the country over the past 18 years. He now resides in Indianapolis and loves a good defensive showcase. His Twitter @danangell11.

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