The latest edition of the Bethune-Cookman-South Carolina State rivalry has been described as everything from a bloodbath to a grudge match.
But longtime Bulldogs coach Buddy Pough used a different form of nomenclature to characterize the once annual MEAC matchup turned non-conference game.
“It’s the battle of the 0-fers,” he said Monday during the MEAC coaches media virtual press conference.
Both teams head into Saturday a combined 0-7 on the season, a surprising outcome for a pair of programs that traditionally were in contention for conference championships as part of the same league.
Bethune-Cookman enters the game with an 0-4 record after a 38-24 loss to Alabama State. Like the Bulldogs, B-CU has played two FBS teams (UTEP and Central Florida) along with Ultimate HBCU Sports Football Poll No. 1 ranked Alabama A&M.
South Carolina State has lost three consecutive games — all to non-conference opponents. It’s the first time the Bulldogs have gone winless through the first three games since a 0-4 start in 2018.
“We’re trying to find out who’s going to break the streak,” Pough said. “Hopefully it’s us.”
The two teams last met in 2019, when the Bulldogs knocked off the Wildcats 27-19.
The rivals had an opportunity to play one final time in 2020 before officially heading to the SWAC, but BCU decided to opt out of the spring season because of COVID-19 concerns.
Bethune-Cookman coach Terry Sims explained that getting on the right side of the ledger is far more important at this stage than romanticizing about what once was.
“It’s absolutely about the win,” Sims said. “It’s two football teams that know each other and are built with athletes that can be successful at any time. Both teams are searching for a win, and I guarantee you it will be a great game Saturday.
“I’ve been here for 12 years and the game is always a grudge match. “From the first play to the last, we don’t expect anything different. Coach Pough and his staff are going to have their guys ready to play.”