It was all bad a year ago…
For those who follow black college football, the fall of 2013 was a tough couple of months. Just as the story of Grambling's football revolt was starting to simmer, the CIAA Championship Game made headlines for all the wrong reasons. A bathroom fight at the conference's championship banquet led to brief hospitalization, temporary incarceration and ultimately the cancelation of the conference's championship game.
A year later we've come full-circle, as both Virginia State and Winston-Salem State won their respective divisions again and are set to meet in the Championship Game in Durham, NC. Both teams enter the game on eight-game winning streaks, as VSU won the CIAA Northern Division for the second-straight year, finishing with an 8-2 overall record. Winston-Salem State took home its fourth-straight Southern Division Crown, finishing the regular season at 9-1.
If Virginia State is to end WSSU's 30-plus game winning streak against CIAA teams, it will have to do so without quarterback Tarian Ayers, who was suspended after being arrested for DUI on Sunday morning. Likewise, Winston-Salem State will have to contend with a Virginia State defense that forced 25 turnovers this season, including 14 interceptions. Whoever wins the game will finally have bragging rights that each program has wanted for over a year.
In the other championship game, the team that represented the SIAC in the playoffs (Tuskgee) will get a chance to play the team that won the conference's championship game last season (Albany State). Tuskegee beat Albany State in Week Two, but ASU hasn't tasted defeat since then, winning seven games in a row while dominating defensively, allowing an average of just 14 points per game. Tuskegee has gone 7-1 since then, losing only to nationally-ranked WSSU.
Down in SWAC Country, one team has already punched its Championship Game ticket, as Alcorn State has already clinched the SWAC East. The SWAC West is a two-team race between traditional powers Grambling and Southern. With the two teams meeting in the Bayou Classic as their regular season finale, they'll want to be careful not to overlook this week's opponents. A loss for Grambling would be bad, but a loss for Southern would be devastating as it already has one more conference loss than Grambling.
The MEAC title won't be decided until the end of the regular season, but this week could weed out another team. SC State, Bethune-Cookman and NC A&T all enter Week 12 with a 5-1 conference record, while thre more teams have a 4-2 record. SC State will play two of those teams, Morgan State and Norfolk State, in the final two weeks. A&T gets a gimme against Savannah State before meeting archrival NCCU in its season finale, while Bethune-Cookman seems to have easiest path to a title as it faces Hampton and FAMU back-to-back.
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