The 2013 Turkey Day Classic will be a little different from years past when Stillman College takes on Alabama State University on Thursday.
It wasn't clear if there would be a Turkey Day Classic after Tuskegee University decided not to participate in the annual game—although there was a break in the 1980s—that dates back to 1924. Tuskegee made the decision with the goal of being able to participate in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Without Tuskegee, Alabama State had to find another opponent for the 90th Turkey Day Classic, which turned out to be Stillman College.
Despite the new opponent, this matchup should still be able to keep up the tradition of a great game.
Here is everything that fans need to know.
Teams: Alabama State Hornets (7-4) vs. Stillman Tigers (6-4)
Where: New ASU Stadium, Montgomery, Ala.
When: Thursday, Nov. 28, at 4 p.m. ET
|Aug. 31||Jacksonville State||L, 24-22|
|Sept. 7||Jackson State||L, 30-23|
|Sept. 14||Arkansas-Pine Bluff||W, 40-39|
|Sept. 21||Grambling State||W, 52-21|
|Sept. 28||Alcorn State||W, 49-30|
|Oct. 5||Texas Southern||W, 34-2|
|Oct. 12||Prairie View A&M||W, 48-42|
|Oct. 26||Alabama A&M||W, 31-7|
|Nov. 2||Kentucky||L, 48-14|
|Nov. 9||Southern||L, 31-28|
|Nov. 16||Mississippi Valley State||W, 19-7|
|Sept. 7||Concordia College-Selma||W, 52-0|
|Sept. 14||Clark Atlanta University||W, 27-6|
|Sept. 21||St. Augustine's University||L, 35-7|
|Sept. 28||Kentuck State University||W, 26-21|
|Oct. 5||Lane College||L, 28-27|
|Oct. 12||Benedict College||W, 35-21|
|Oct. 19||Tuskegee University||L, 35-7|
|Oct. 24||Central State University||W, 35-33|
|Nov. 2||Miles College||L, 31-30|
|Nov. 9||College of Faith||W, 42-0|
|Nov. 28||Alabama State University|
*via Stillman's official website
Can the Hornets Get Going on Offense?
Alabama State has a prolific offense, but it has been slowed down in recent games. The Hornets have been held to 49 total points in their last three contests, which has resulted in two losses. During those three games, they have been held under 20 points twice.
Before their November slump, which is the result of tougher competition, the Hornets were on a roll on offense. They were riding a six-game winning streak that saw them score 42.3 points per game. On the season, they are averaging 31.6 points per outing.
Isaiah Crowell has rushed for 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns, and Malcolm Cyrus has 819 rushing yards, 174 receiving yards and six rushing touchdowns.
On the other side, Stillman has struggled to score at times this season, so it will be crucial for the Tigers to be able to slow down Alabama State.
The Tigers have averaged 28.8 points per game this season and 35.7 points over their last three. They have the potential to score and keep up with stronger offenses, but they have struggled at times and haven't been able to find any consistency, especially in their losses. Twice this season they were held to seven points, and that won't cut it in this year's Classic.
At its best, Stillman uses a balanced attack on offense, led by strong quarterback play. Torrance Moise has thrown for 1,214 yards with seven touchdowns and Josh Straughan has thrown for 1,334 yards and 10 touchdowns. Moise also leads the team with 529 rushing yards (4.7 yards per carry) with five scores, so his importance to the team can't be overstated.
They'll need to utilize their skill-position players to establish momentum. Rovonta Johnson has 343 rushing yards and five touchdowns, and Jovontae Thurmon has rushed for 331 yards and three total touchdowns, so they are capable of balancing the passing attack. Meanwhile, Reese Sturgis and Dondre Purnell each have at least 675 receiving yards and three touchdowns, and they will be counted on to make plays.
The Tigers have a lot of firepower on offense, but they'll have to execute to have that firepower make a difference.
Expect this to be a shootout. Both offenses will be putting up points, and it will be up to one of the defenses to make key stops.
Neither team is on a winning streak, so momentum heading into the game won't be an issue. The Tigers have been doing a good job of putting up points recently.
However, the Hornets will benefit from playing some tough teams lately.
Stillman's balance on offense will give Alabama State some problems, but the Tigers won't be able to outscore the Hornets.
Final Score: Alabama State 35—Stillman 28
*All stats are via the teams' official websites