The 2022-23 college football bowl season will continue on Saturday afternoon with an exciting matchup between the North Carolina Central Eagles (9-2) and the Jackson State Tigers (12-0) in the Cricket Celebration Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
North Carolina Central is making its second appearance in the Celebration Bowl after winning the MEAC title this season. The Eagles are led by head coach Trei Oliver and junior quarterback Davius Richard, who was first-team All-MEAC and named MEAC Offensive Player of the Year this season. It’s also Jackson State’s second trip to the Celebration Bowl as they look to redeem themselves from last year’s 31-10 defeat to South Carolina State. Jackson State hopes things are different this season, with it being the final game for head coach Deion Sanders and standout sophomore quarterback Shedeur Sanders. Both are heading to the University of Colorado next season.
The younger Sanders has separated himself as the best QB in the SWAC and HBCU football over the past two seasons and is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award (FCS version of the Heisman). Meanwhile, Coach Prime has done an outstanding job at Jackson State over the past three seasons. He led the Tigers to a 27-5 record, two SWAC titles, and two Celebration Bowl appearances. T.C. Taylor, a former player at Jackson State who has been on the coaching staff since 2019, will be taking over for Sanders.
Below we’ll give you the latest odds for Saturday’s Celebration Bowl between Jackson State and North Carolina Central. We’ll also provide some advice on the spread and total before you place a bet on the game.
North Carolina Central vs. Jackson State odds
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook
Spread: North Carolina Central +14 (-110), Jackson State -14 (-110)
Moneyline: NCCU +470, JSU -670
Best Bet for North Carolina Central vs. Jackson State
When it comes to playing a side in Saturday’s game, the public will likely take the Tigers, who are 6-6 against the spread this season. However, that might not be the best play, as Jackson State is 5-6 ATS as double-digit underdogs this season. The Tigers boast one of the best scoring defenses (11.2 points per game allowed) and offenses (38 points per game) in the FCS this season. They also average 154.8 rushing yards per game this season, which is pretty good.
That said, they are facing an equally good NCCU squad, who has an outstanding offense (38.4 points per game – sixth in the FCS) and a ground attack led by junior running back Latrell Collier, which averages 204.6 rushing yards per game. The Eagles are also giving up 20.1 points per game (13th in the FCS). NCCU has a solid run defense (135.3 yards per game allowed), which will be tested by JSU sophomore running back Sy’Veon Wilkerson. Finally, the Eagles are 6-3 ATS this season and 2-0 ATS as double-digit underdogs (outright wins over North Carolina A&T and New Hampshire). What also works against Jackson State is that the SWAC representative is 1-5 straight up on the moneyline and 1-4 ATS in the last six Celebration Bowls, per VSIN.com.
Therefore, if I had to pick a side, I’m leaning towards NCCU, which can score with JSU and could give their defense some fits. It will be a fun game between both schools, and I think the QBs will show up and show out on Saturday afternoon.
PICK: North Carolina Central +14 (-110)
[Photo courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]