ASU Football: Game Preview: Alabama State and Alabama A&M set for Magic City Classic with East Division on the line

MONTGOMERY, Ala. | The 79th annual McDonald’s Magic City Classic presented by Coca-Cola will not be the typical battle between Alabama State and Alabama A&M in Birmingham.

The game, usually played the last Saturday in October, is being played in April at Legion Field. The crowd size has been affected due to COVID-19 protocols. The game is not in the middle of the conference season as it usually is, and this spring it has been moved to primetime. And to top it off … the game will decide the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) East Division with both the Hornets and Bulldogs sitting atop the East Division.

Last season, the two teams battled for three overtimes with Alabama A&M coming out on top 43-41. Meanwhile, this year Alabama State (3-2, 3-2 SWAC) enters the game following a 42-17 victory over Mississippi Valley State last weekend, while Alabama A&M (2-0, 2-0 SWAC) defeated Jackson State 52-43 last weekend after playing for the first time in a month.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Nettles enters the contest after winning his fourth SWAC Newcomer of the Week award after 305 passing yards against Mississippi Valley State with three touchdowns. For the year, he has thrown for 902 yards and accounted for nine touchdowns (8 passing / 1 rushing), while his counterpart Aqeel Glass of Alabama A&M has thrown for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns in two games this season.

Ezra Gray continues to lead the team in rushing with 335 yards and three touchdowns, while 11 different receivers have caught passes this season including four with double digit receptions led by Michael Jefferson with 20 total catches.

On the defensive side of the football, Irshaad Davis – the reigning SWAC Defensive Player of the Week – leads the Hornets with 32 total tackles. As a team, Alabama State has forced 14 turnovers including causing nine fumbles in four games.

The annual contest will kick off at 6:30 pm and can be seen on ESPNU. It will also be carried on the Hornet Sports Network with pregame starting at 6 pm live from Legion Field.

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**(All photos provided by ASU)**
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