Five weeks in, the contenders have started to emerge in the SIAC, CIAA, MEAC and SWAC, but we also can’t forget about Tennessee State.
The OVC’s HBCU team are the lone undefeated HBCU program in FCS football, improving to 4-0 after a thrilling 34-30 win over UT-Martin last week. They came up with the big win despite losing the services of starting quarterback O’Shay Ackerman-Carter, who was lost for the season to a lower leg injury. Veteran quarterback Ronald Butler stepped up for TSU and will look to lead them for the rest of the season.
After two relatively easy wins against SWAC East opponents in the previous two weeks, Grambling came into Dallas looking to show Prairie View that while they weren’t picked to be the favorites, the division still belonged to them. After giving up a quick 16 points, Grambling scored 36 unanswered points to stay perfect in SWAC play and get a leg up on Prairie View. They now have the next two weeks off, which may or may not be a good thing.
Over in the MEAC, North Carolina A&T got the weekend kicked off with a resounding 35-0 win over conference foe Norfolk State. Running back Tarik Cohen’s 200 yard performance broke the MEAC rushing record, formerly held by South Carolina State’s Will Ford.
Down the road in Durham, North Carolina Central will look to stay perfect in conference play as it faces FAMU.
NCCU has been on fire offensively in its last three games, averaging 43.3 points per game, and they are facing a FAMU team that pulled out a win against Savannah State after losing to D-II Tuskegee earlier this year.
Tuskegee has easily been the best team in the SIAC and one of the top teams in all of Division II and HBCU football. ‘Skegee came up with a big come-from-behind win against UNC-Pembroke thanks to big efforts from quarterback Kevin Lacey and receiver Desmond Reece. Lacey’s improvement has been one of the big story lines this season, as he’s thrown just two interceptions through five games after throwing 13 last season.
He’s also on pace to increase his touchdown passes as he’s throwing nine in five games after throwing just 14 last season, including ‘Skegee’s playoff run. This week ‘Skegee finds itself in a matchup against a Morehouse team that lost 37-36 to rival Clark Atlanta after leading by 21 points in the second half.
Things are a little less cut and dry over in the CIAA. The CIAA North has as many as four teams who could end up representing the division in the championship game, wherever that may be. Virginia State (4-1), Chowan (4-1), Virginia Union (3-2) and Bowie State (3-2) have all looked like championship teams in the first half of the season.
Last year’s division title came down to the final couple of weeks, and this is the one division in HBCU football that every game really does matter.
Down in the CIAA South, Winston-Salem State seems to be finding its way after back-to-back wins against VSU and Lincoln improved its record to 3-2. The south appears to be noticeably weaker than the North, with Shaw and Fayetteville State both winless, while Livingstone, St. Aug and JCSU all have just one win.