Don't look now, but half of the college football season is behind us. As we kick off the second half, things are starting to flesh out in the HBCU football world. Conference races are starting to take shape, players are positioning themselves for awards and, most importantly, it's homecoming season. Check out this week's slate of top games:
Prairie View (4-2) at Alabama State (4-2)
Another week, another big SWAC East/West game. Alabama State and Prairie View are the top two scoring offenses in the SWAC, as both come into the game averaging better than 35 points per game. ASU prefers the run as its main weapon, which makes sense with Isaiah Crowell in the backfield. Sophomore quarterback Daniel Duhart has shown he can get it done through the air as well. For Prairie View, it starts with its electrifying passing game, led by junior Jerry Lovelocke. The Panthers have more than one person who can move the ball on the ground, as Courtney Brown is second in rushing to Crowell.
All of that to say: If Saturday's game holds to form, we could be looking at a good, old-fashioned SWAC shootout.
Tennessee State (5-1) at No. 21 Jacksonville State
Since losing its opener to Bethune-Cookman, Tennessee State has been on a tear, winning its last five games, most of them by a comfortable margin. TSU will face its biggest challenge since BCU in OVC rival Jacksonville State on Saturday. The Tigers have one of the best defenses in the FCS, but will need to continue to bring it against a Gamecock squad with a bruising rushing attack.
No. 16 Bethune-Cookman (4-1) at Howard (1-4)
Bethune-Cookman heads up to the DMV this weekend with a 4-1 record, having accomplished quite a bit already. They beat a qualtiy Tennessee State team on the road, they smashed D2 Virginia Union and picked up their first win over an FBS opponent all in the first three weeks. Since then, however, things have quieted down. It lost to Florida State 54-6, which was expected. Last week it beat Delaware State, as expected, though it wasn't as compfortable of a margin that many thought they would have.
Saturday they will face a desperate Howard team, which has lost three straight since starting out 1-1. Despite its record, HU has played MEAC team's tough. Look for that trend to continue Saturday, though it likely won't be enough for an upset.
Johnson C. Smith (4-1) at No. 16 Winston-Salem State (4-1)
Winston-Salem State enters Saturday's game riding high, having won its past four games by at least 21 points heading into this homecoming matchup. It faces an opponent in Johnson C. Smith that it hasn't lost to since the East Coast-West Coast beef. WSSU won 63-7 last season, ruining Johnson C. Smith's homecoming in the process. JCSU will hope to return the favor and hand WSSU its first home loss since Oct. 2010.
Tuskegee (4-1) at Morehouse (2-3)
Like Army-Navy and Notre Dame-USC, this game is always compelling for historical reasons, despite where the teams records stand. There's no doubt that Tuskegee is the superior team; it's only loss was to nationally ranked Winston-Salem State. Morehouse's two wins came against lightweight Central State and NAIA Edward Waters, and is coming off a loss to previously winless Clark-Atlanta.