GREENSBORO — Both football teams are perfect since the start of league play.

But only one of them is in the running for a MEAC championship.

No. 11 N.C. A&T plays Florida A&M at Bragg Stadium in Tallahassee at Saturday in a matchup of two of the MEAC’s three remaining unbeatens.

It’s a critical game for the Aggies (2-0 MEAC, 4-1 overall), while the host Rattlers (3-0, 5-1) are playing for little more than bragging rights.

“It’s very important that you perform well in games six, seven and eight,” A&T coach Sam Washington said. “Those are the games we look at as championship football games. Those are the most critical games on your schedule. …

“Generally, those games are the pivotal moment in the season. Because someone has to lose. Right now, there’s three undefeated teams out here. (Bethune-Cookman is the other). After game eight, there should only be one. We look at it from that perspective, and we want to be that team.”

If Florida A&M is that team, it wouldn’t matter.

The Rattlers play a full schedule this season, and their games count in the league standings. But they are not eligible for a MEAC championship nor any postseason play.

In May, Florida A&M was cited for a lack of institutional control, and the university is in the first of five years of NCAA probation after self-reporting a slew of violations that occurred from 2010-2017. During that period, 93 athletes were improperly certified in 12 sports.

Among the penalties are postseason bans for the football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, volleyball and men’s track & field teams this school year.

All the infractions occurred before current athletics director John Eason and football coach Willie Simmons were hired.

But the postseason ban could make FAMU the most dangerous team on A&T’s schedule this year.

Because with no chance of a Celebration Bowl berth, a spot in the FCS Playoffs or a MEAC ring, the only thing the Rattlers have left to play for is the regular season.

“They’re a good football team, a lot like us,” A&T senior defensive tackle Justin Cates said. “They’ve got athletes, just like we do. They play hard, just like we do. They run to the ball on defense, just like we do. …

“You live for games like this one. It’s not like a boring game against a bad team. We’re all looking forward to this game. We want it bad.”

North Carolina A&T vs. Florida A&M (copy) (copy)

Florida A&M quarterback Ryan Stanley finished 28-for-53 passing for 313 yards and a touchdown in the Rattlers’ 22-21 victory at N.C. A&T last year. Stanley leads the MEAC and ranks 17th in the nation with 1,708 passing yards, despite playing one fewer game than most of the national leaders.

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Contact Jeff Mills at (336) 373-7024, and follow @JeffMillsNR on Twitter.

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