Getting on top of a conference in football is tough, but even tougher is staying on top. Why? Because behind every corner is a team that is tired of losing to you and wants to be the one to take you down. Thats something both North Carolina A&T and Grambling State are having to deal with early in the 2018 season.
North Carolina A&T came into last week riding high on a 15-game winning streak only to see it snapped by a winless Morgan State team in a 16-13 shocker that came down to a last-second field goal.
North Carolina A&T’s 15 game win streak ends in shocking fashion at the hands of the Morgan State Bears.
A&T would come back for a resounding 31-16 win over South Carolina State on Thursday night, but the tone for the week and the season has been set.
The team at the top of the SWAC for the last two years has been Grambling. If were being honest, the G-Men have been in a league of their own the last couple of years with DeVante Kincade and Martez Carter terrifying defenses from Montgomery, AL to Houston. Those two young men are gone, along with another important catalyst for that offensive success, former offensive coordinator Eric Dooley.
Dooley took his high-scoring act west to Prairie View A&M over the summer, taking over for departed Willie Simmons. So far his team has been the talk of the SWAC, nearly taking down Rice and Sam Houston State and becoming the first program in the SWAC to win the MEAC/SWAC Challenge outside of Southern in the games history.
This week, Dooleys new team will meet the team that he helped re-establish as a SWAC power in Dallas in the State Fair Classic. This matchup is always anticipated, but this year the stakes feel a little higher.
Grambling picked up its first win of the season last week against Alabama State, but PVAMU will be a step up in competition. Armed with a one-two punch of quarterback Jalen Morton and running back Dawonya Tucker, who leads the FCS in rushing, Prairie View will look to make a statement to the SWAC that it is a legit challenger to the crown Grambling currently holds.
Obviously, neither team can clinch the title on Saturday, but the winner will be 1-0 in SWAC West play and have an early leg up in the race for a spot in the conferences championship game in November. The loser will have to win with one eye on the other hoping they trip up as well.
With A&Ts win over South Carolina State already in the books, one game to watch in the MEAC will be Florida A&M at North Carolina Central. The two teams have just one FCS win between the two of them, FAMUs 31-13 win over Savannah State last week. The two both beat D2 teams, lost to SWAC teams and lost money games, so it should be an interesting matchup. The last time FAMU came to Durham it lost a close matchup in the remnants of a hurricane. Both teams are much different now, and hopefully the weather will be as well.
With A&Ts loss to Morgan State, only two unbeaten teams remain in the HBCU ranks. Theres Morehouse in the SIAC, who improved to 4-0 thanks to a Hail Mary from quarterback Mike Sims, and Tennessee State.
TSU has been the comeback king so far this season. After an opening route of Bethune-Cookman, TSU had back-to-back games canceled against Jackson State and Hampton, but came back strong with a 41-40 win over OVC rival Eastern Illinois. This week theyll face in-state FBS foe Vanderbilt, so the competition will be a step up to say the least, but TSU is hoping to be a factor in the OVC and make another run at the playoffs.
Keep up with all the HBCU action this week and every week on HBCUGameday.com.