HBCU football season kicked off last weekend and kicks in full drive this weekend as the first full week of the college football season gets underway.
Both the FCS and Division II races look to be super-competitive early on. At the FCS level, it’s all about the Celebration Bowl (well, unless you are Tennessee State or Hampton) as the MEAC and SWAC squads all have their eyes on Atlanta. The two teams that played in Week Zero, North Carolina A&T and Prairie View, both played like they could eventually end up there.
It’s the debut of “No Huddle” by HBCU Gameday. A look back and a look ahead to the week of HBCU football. We discuss North Carolina A&T’s big win over Jacksonville State, Prairie View’s almost upset. We look forward to the Alabama State-Tuskegee game and reveal the initial watch list for our National Player of The Year Award.
Prairie View nearly shocked the world on Saturday, giving Rice all it could handle in a 31-28 loss to the FBS foe. PVAMU came into the game with a first-time head coach in former Grambling offensive coordinator Eric Dooley and a new quarterback in Jalen Morton, and were in control of the game before going scoreless in the fourth quarter.
They face what looks to be a solid North Carolina Central team on Sunday in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge as they hope to establish themselves as a contender in the SWAC.
A&T, the reigning MEAC and HBCU champs, pulled off a big 20-17 win over Jacksonville State. It was a statement game for a team that went unbeaten in 2017, yet found itself on the outside-looking-in on pretty much every FCS poll’s top 10.
As long as its offensive stars, particularly Elijah Bell, stay healthy the Aggies look like the team to beat in the MEAC once again. A win this week over in-state FBS opponent East Carolina would be monumental and reinforce that it is indeed a top shelf FCS team, even if it doesn’t participate in the playoffs.
Of course, we’re a long way from December and many teams will have a say in who makes it to Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Grambling is the defending SWAC champ and has been to the last two Celebration Bowls, but it has some major firepower to replace.
Big things are expected of Howard this year, but Caylin Newton and company will have to be road warriors if they want to get it done. Alcorn State has had the SWAC East on lock the past four years but, like Grambling, they have to replace some big-time playmakers.
North Carolina Central took a step back last year, but they will be in the mix as well. Bethune-Cookman hosts both A&T and NCCU at home, and gets Howard on the road, as they look to push for the MEAC title once again.
Over in the D-II ranks, both the CIAA and SIAC enter the season with something to prove. Bowie State’s Amir Hall is one of the best players in Division II and in all of HBCU football, but his team has yet to win a postseason game over the last three seasons despite two appearances in the CIAA Championship Game and the D-II playoffs.
Defending CIAA champ Virginia State will try to repeat without Trenton Cannon, who was drafted by the New York Jets this April. Over in the SIAC, Tuskegee will be out for blood after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012 despite going 9-2 and beating two SWAC teams.
Over at HBCU Gameday, we’ll kick off the season in Montgomery as Alabama State hosts Tuskegee in its Labor Day Classic.
The pregame show will be broadcast via our Amazon Fire and YouTube channels and the game will be broadcast via Alabama State’s website. Our new weekly show, “No Huddle”, will have highlights, analysis, fan interaction and more on our digital channels.
Get out there and enjoy some tailgating and HBCU football.