Howard vs. Florida A&M odds & prediction: Rattlers favored to get rare Celebration Bowl win for SWAC

The Howard Bison will take on the Florida A&M Rattlers at noon on Saturday, Dec. 16 in the 2023 Celebration Bowl.

The game serves as the de facto HBCU national championship since it features the champions of two conferences comprised of historically black colleges and universities (SWAC and MEAC). 

Let’s take a look at the odds, analysis and predictions for this FCS matchup. 

Howard vs. Florida A&M odds: Point spread, moneyline, total

Howard secured the MEAC title with a 14-7 win over the Morgan State Bears on Nov. 18. Florida A&M rolled through their conference schedule undefeated, their only loss of the season coming against an FBS team, South Florida.

Here are live odds for Howard vs. Florida A&M on the top sports betting apps:—-2022-how-to-presentation-0d0f773a42

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Howard vs. Florida A&M betting trends and history

  • Howard leads the all-time series vs. Florida A&M, 4-3.
  • Florida A&M won the last meeting during the 2019 season, 39-7.
  • The MEAC is 6-1 over the SWAC in the game’s short history (since 2015).
  • This game is the first for both in the Celebration Bowl.
  • Howard finished the season 6-5 overall, 4-1 in conference play.
  • In non-conference play, they averaged 23 PPG on offense while the defense allowed 28 PPG.
  • Two non-conference games were vs. FBS teams, vs. Eastern Michigan (33-23 loss) and vs. Northwestern (23-20 loss).
  • The Bison offense averaged 26.4 PPG in conference play, while the defense allowed 17.4 PPG.
  • Florida A&M finished the season 11-1 overall and 9-0 in conference play.
  • The Rattlers beat Prairie View A&M in the SWAC title game, 34-14, after beating them 45-7 a few weeks earlier.
  • The Florida A&M offense has averaged 30.7 PPG this season, while the defense has allowed just 14.2 PPG.

Howard vs. Florida A&M analysis

The Howard offense has been good but not great this season, averaging 383.7 YPG and 28.7 PPG. They’ve done better running the ball (No. 24, 180.9 YPG) than throwing it (No. 64, 202.8 YPG).

Teams have struggled to throw on the Bisons’ top-ranked pass defense (No. 1 passing yards allowed; No. 3 in pass defense efficiency). But it has been much easier to run on their lackluster run defense (No. 101, 186.9 YPG allowed).

Florida A&M may try to take advantage of Howard’s run defense, but running the ball is not their offense’s strength (143.9 YPG). They are much better at throwing the ball (232.2 YPG). But the Rattlers may rely on their top-10 defense to keep Howard off the scoreboard.

The Florida A&M defense is ranked among the best in the FCS in several categories: 

  • No. 2 in total defense.
  • No. 2 in scoring.
  • No. 5 vs. the run.
  • No. 11 vs. the pass.

Howard may also be at a slight disadvantage to start the game since the Bison last played before Thanksgiving (Nov. 18 vs. Morgan State). If they take too long to knock the rust off, the Rattlers may get out to a lead too big for them to overcome

Bets to consider


Florida A&M should contain Howard’s offense for much of the game. But the Bison defense will keep the Rattlers from running away with it.

Florida A&M

The MEAC has dominated the SWAC in this game, but Florida A&M is hands down the better of the two teams. As long as they don’t beat themselves, the Rattlers should easily win this by at least a touchdown.


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