The Return Of The Orange Blossom Classic - 5 September 2021




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The Rivalry

September 5 2021


A & M Rattlers


Jackson State University Tigers

Two History Making Teams, One Legendary Game

The Teams


Steeped in tradition, the renowned Florida A&M football program boasts a litany of marquee players and legendary coaches. The Rattlers have produced 4 College Football Hall of Fame members and contributed 60 Florida A&M alumni to the NFL.

FAMU made college football history by becoming the first team to win the newly-established Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision or FCS) national championship.

The Rattlers have won 15 black college football national championships, 29 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) titles, eight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) titles and I-AA national title in the history of their football program.


The JSU football program sports a 462-302-15 overall record and a .603 winning percentage. The winning percentage ranks in the top 25 of all-time in NCAA Division I. 

The Tigers have produced 99 NFL draft picks, and 150 players have played professionally in the NFL. Among the most notable JSU alums are four Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees: Walter Payton, Lem Barney, Jackie Slater, and Robert Brazile. The four inductees are the most among universities in Mississippi.

JSU has won 16 Southwestern Athletic Conference Championships, seven division championships, and three HBCU National Championships. Part of the JSU tradition is its supportive and loyal fan base. In 2018 and 2019, JSU led the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in average attendance per game. In 2019, an average of 33,762 per game and over 100,000 people visited Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Florida A&M University

Jackson State Univeristy


Willie Roman Simmons was born in Tallahassee, the youngest of three children and the only son. He is married to the former Shaia Rene Beckwith, and together they have four children, Raven, Shailoh, Louis III, and Wraylon.

Simmons had a highly distinguished prep career at Quincy’s James Shanks High School, earning All-American honors as a quarterback, after leading the Tigers to their first district championship in 22 years, and being named Big Bend Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,505 yards and 32 touchdowns.


A legendary football program and a Pro Football Hall of Famer have joined forces. An eight-time Pro Bowler, and two-time Super Bowl champion, Sanders played 14 NFL seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens. Sanders is the only player to have played in a Super Bowl and a World Series.

A two-time All-American at Florida State, Sanders was the first-round draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons in 1989. In 2020, for the NFL 100th Season, Sanders was named to the NFL All-Time Team. 

Jackson State University

Don’t Miss The
Battle of the Bands

The Bands


Led by Dr. Shelby R. Chapman

Ranking high among the many proud traditions of Florida A&M University is the highly acclaimed Marching “100” Band. The first band at this institution, formerly named A&M College, was organized in 1892 under P.A. Van Weller’s tutelage. From a meager store of 16 instruments, the Marching “100” has grown to over 420 members. This organization has been polished and refined to perfection for the past 104 years under its esteemed directors’ guidance.

The Marching “100” Band has performed at inaugural events for Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden.

Credited for not less than 30 innovative techniques, FAMU’s marching band has created what is now known as standard operating procedures for many high school and collegiate marching band programs throughout the nation. The penchant for precision demonstrated in every aspect of its performance is a key to the success of the “100.”


Led by Dr. Roderick Little

The Jackson State University Marching Band was dubbed The Sonic Boom of the South in 1971 by students in the band. 

The “Sonic Boom” is a favored entry in halftime performances during football season and parades across Mississippi and in other states. 

The band, known for its intricate precision drumming and big band sound, has performed many halftime appearances for the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, and Cincinnati Bengals; a television special for Motown’s 30th Anniversary and the 34th NAACP Image Awards, with a special guest performance by “Cedric the Entertainer.” 

Most recently, Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South performed virtually during the We Are One inauguration celebration for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

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