Rattlers try to tame Wildcats

The Florida A&M football season will come down to one game. This weekend the Rattlers travel to Orlando to take on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats in a game that has Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship implications. 

The Rattlers (6-1 in the MEAC) will need a win over the undefeated Wildcats to keep their hopes alive for their eighth MEAC championship.

FAMU’s best friend this weekend will be the North Carolina A&T Aggies who will face the South Carolina State Bulldogs. 

If FAMU can defeat Bethune-Cookman, and the Aggies beat the Bulldogs, the Rattlers will be the champions by virtue of a win over the Wildcats and a better record than South Carolina State.  

The Wildcats (7-0 in the MEAC) have produced an impressive season so far under first-year head coach Brian Jenkins.  They have the top-ranked offense in the MEAC, averaging 442 yards per game behind senior quarterback Matt Johnson. 

The Wildcats enter the game as slight favorites, but Rattler head coach Joe Taylor said with so much on the line, records don’t really matter. 

“We’re going in to win.  I don’t see it being a spoiler,” Taylor said.  “The bottom line is whoever wins, wins the championship.  I’m sure because of their record we’re probably going to be considered underdogs, but that’s for the media.”

Rattler quarterback Austin Trainor is finding his groove after earning his first career start on the road against North Carolina A&T on Saturday.

 The redshirt-freshman from Tallahassee said he is playing with more poise because of his offensive line.

“It gives me a great deal of confidence knowing I’m going to have time to get rid of the ball,” Trainor said.  “The O-line has been putting in a lot of extra work after practice every day, and it’s certainly showing out on the field.”

In big games between two rivals, the special teams could make the difference.  Junior wide receiver and special teams player Edmond Baker said the unit has been studying the tendencies of Wildcat punter Kory Kowalski. He even made a bold prediction at Tuesday’s press conference.

“As long as we have great timing when we’re trying to block every punt, and as long as there is a fair call on the field, I feel like we can get at least two blocked punts in the game,” Baker said.

The 63rd meeting between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman will kickoff at 2:30 p.m., and will be broadcast on WHBX 96.1 FM.  ESPN Classic will also air the game live on Comcast digital channel 726.  It will be the 14th straight year the teams have met in the Classic.