HBCU Football Spotlight: Week 10

By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus

NEW HAVEN — It’s the first weekend of November football and the preliminary start of the championship stretch. While the MEAC and SWAC still have a few weeks in the regular season, it’s the final week for the SIAC and CIAA as their championship games will be played next week.

Entering this week’s play, only one of the four championship game slots have been decided. Defending SIAC champion Fort Valley State (5-3, 5-0) clinched the Eastern Division with a 52-7 win over Morehouse last Saturday at Wildcat Stadium.

The Wildcats, who’ll be competing for the title for the second time since 1999, will meet the winner of Saturday’s Miles College-Tuskegee contest at Cleve L. Abbott Memorial Stadium.

Saturday will mark the 61st meeting between the Golden Bears (6-3, 4-1) and the Golden Tigers (7-2, 5-0) with Tuskegee leading the all-time series 47-14. Both teams appear to be peaking just at the right time.

Since a 61-0 pummeling at the hands of Findlay (Ohio) on September 23, Tuskegee has reeled off five straight wins. Miles College has won four straight since their 34-9 loss to Albany State on September 30.

Last week, the backfield of Joseph Cambridge and Justin Hardy led the way as the Golden Bears defeated Clark Atlanta 38-17 last Thursday night at Sloan-Alumni Stadium. Cambridge, a freshman quarterback, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the win.

Hardy ran for 177 yards on 17 carries and his electrifying fourth-quarter touchdown put the game on ice. He’s become the first running back under the Reginald Ruffin era to rush for over 1,000 yards with a league-leading 1,081 yards and 11 touchdowns.

As for Tuskegee, they shutout Central State 45-0 in the Golden Tigers’ homecoming last week. TU jumped out to a 31-0 halftime lead and was never threatened. The 31 first-half points marked a season high and the most since TU’s home opener against Clark Atlanta.

Senior linebacker Osband Thompson, who had 11 tackles on the day, now has 112 tackles on the season, the most in the nation. This mark is also 34 stops better than the second leading tackler in the SIAC.

The game, scheduled for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff, can be seen live on ESPN3/Watch ESPN.

CIAA LOGJAM

To say that the CIAA championship is up for grabs would be an understatement. Both division titles are still undecided and the conference has announced what all the tiebreakers will mean.

So take a deep breath and try to follow along.

Northern Division Scenarios
If Virginia State University wins this weekend (vs. VUU), they will hold a perfect 7-0 conference record and advance to the championship with the Northern Division title secured.
If Virginia Union University wins this weekend (vs. VSU) and Bowie State University loses (vs. ECSU), Virginia Union and Virginia State will both hold conference records of 6-1. Due to the head-to-head tiebreaker scenario, VUU would advance to the CIAA Championship with Saturday’s victory over VSU.
If Bowie State wins (vs. ECSU) and Virginia Union wins (vs. VSU), a three-way-tie will be held by BSU, VUU, and VSU as all teams will be 6-1 in conference play. Each team will have a single loss to one of the three-way tie teams. The next step in determining the Northern Division Champion will be by point differential. Virginia State is +12 due to their 47-35 victory over Bowie State. Bowie State is +18 due to their 40-22 victory over Virginia Union.
This means that Virginia Union will have to beat Virginia State by a minimum of 19 points to secure the Northern Division title. If Virginia Union does not beat Virginia State by the minimum 19 points, Bowie State (+18) will appear in the championship game because they will have the differential advantage over VUU and over VSU’s +12 victory margin.
If Virginia Union beats Virginia State by exactly 18 points, VUU and BSU will both hold a victory margin of +18 points. With the same conference percentage, both 6-1, head-to-head will be awarded to Bowie State due to their 40-22 victory over Virginia Union and Bowie State will advance to the CIAA Championship.
Southern Division Scenarios
If Saint Augustine’s University wins this weekend (vs. Shaw) and Fayetteville State University (vs. WSSU) wins, they will both hold a 5-2 conference record. The FSU Broncos will advance to the Championship from the Southern Division due to winning the head-to-head competition versus the Falcons on Saturday, October 21.
If Saint Augustine’s wins this weekend (vs. Shaw) and Winston-Salem State University (vs. FSU) wins, they will both hold a 5-2 conference record. The SAU Falcons would advance to the CIAA title game due to winning the head-to-head competition versus the Rams on Saturday, October 14.
If Saint Augustine’s falls to the Bears of Shaw University, the winner of the Fayetteville State vs. Winston-Salem State game will advance to the Championship with a 5-2 conference record. SAU and the loser (FSU vs. WSSU) will drop to a 4-3 conference record.
No, there will not be a quiz on all of this.
MEAC
Hampton’s loss to Bethune-Cookman leaves North Carolina A&T as the only team unbeaten in league play and in the driver’s seat for the crown. After a bye week, the Aggies (8-0, 5-0) return to action as they visit Norfolk State (3-5, 3-2) at 1:30 p.m. ET.
A&T is ranked No. 7 in the FCS Coaches poll and No. 9 in the STATS FCS poll. Two weeks ago, the Spartans ended North Carolina Central’s 18-game conference winning streak by beating the Eagles, the three-time defending MEAC champions, 28-21 in Durham.
However, they followed that up with a home loss to Savannah State.
As for the Eagles (6-2, 4-1), they’ll head to Hampton to meet the Pirates (5-3, 4-1) in a critical match-up at 1 p.m. ET.  The Pirates have won eight of the past 10 meetings, but NCCU has captured victories in two of the last three match-ups.
Also, Howard (5-3, 4-1) is looking for its first winning season since 2012 as they battle Florida A&M (3-6, 2-4) at Tallahassee. More importantly, the Bison need to win in order to remain in the top three.
SWAC
Division leaders Grambling State (West) and Alcorn State (East) are on a collision course to meet each other for the second time this season heading into Saturday’s play. GSU will travel to Golden Lion Stadium to meet Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 2:30 p.m. CT.
The Tigers (7-1, 4-0), who are riding a seven-game winning streak, moved up one spot in the latest FCS Coaches Poll from No. 13 to No. 12 and two spots in the STATS FCS Top 25 Poll to No 13.
They’re also in the top spot in the SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll. The Tigers lead the overall series, 28-11-2, including winning the last three. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-5, 1-3) is riding a four-game losing streak, after falling to Southern, 47-40 last Saturday.
As for Alcorn State (5-3, 3-1), they’ll host Alabama A&M (3-5, 3-2) at 2 p.m. CT at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium. The Braves have won nine consecutive games against SWAC East foes, a streak that has stretched out over two seasons.
ASU ranks first in the conference in total offense (431.1 ypg), rushing offense (209.2 ypg), first downs (20.2 per game), third down conversions (45.0%) and red zone defense (63.6%). The red zone defense percentage also ranks top-five in the FCS, while the third-down conversions and rushing offense are top-20.
The Bulldogs feature a defense that leads the SWAC in fewest yards allowed with 320.1 per game. They’re currently second in the league with 22 sacks and are paced by Vernon Moland who has five.

CLASSIC SPOTLIGHT: THE COMMEMORATIVE CLASSIC

All season, the CIAA has celebrated the 125th anniversary of the first recorded black college football game, which began with two CIAA member institutions — Livingstone College and Johnson C. Smith.

In a snowstorm on December 27, 1892, Johnson C. Smith University, then named Biddle University, traveled for two days by horse and buggy to Salisbury, North Carolina to play against Livingstone College for the first-ever black college football contest.

The Golden Bulls defeated the Blue Bears 5-0 after a disputed Livingstone touchdown was called back by the official.  Every year, the two schools come together to celebrate this historic event with the Commemorative Classic.

This year’s contest will be played at Livingstone’s Alumni Memorial Football Stadium. While both teams have struggled this season (J.C. Smith is 1-8, Livingstone is 0-9), Saturday’s game remains a testament to the enduring spirit of what black college football has meant to many over the years.

The Golden Bulls will look for its eighth win over the Blue Bears in the Commemorative Classic era, which started in 2009. Since the inception of the Classic, JCSU has dominated the series by outscored the Blue Bears, 251-108 with the most lopsided win coming in 2012 when JCSU thumped LC, 57-6.

The Golden Bulls are averaging 31.4 ppg while LC only manages 13.5. J.C. Smith leads the overall series at 47-32-4. The last time they visited Livingstone in 2015, the Blue Bears won their only Commemorative Classic game, 35-12 on a rain-soaked afternoon.

NEWS AND NOTES

CIAA TO HONOR FOOTBALL LEGENDS DURING TITLE GAME

The CIAA has selected 12 former conference football players to be recognized as Legends of CIAA Football prior to kickoff at the 2017 Football Championship game at Salem Stadium on Saturday, November 11. Kickoff of the championship game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in Salem, Virginia.

The CIAA will celebrate the accomplishments of each player in support of its historic 125th anniversary of Black college football, which marks the recording of the first-ever game between two of its institutions–Johnson C. Smith University, then named Biddle University, and Livingstone College.

“The CIAA is rich in tradition and strong in leadership,” said Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams. “In honoring the Legends of CIAA Football, we celebrate and thank them for the impact they have had on our conference. Part of our foundation and success is attributed to these phenomenal former players and their contributions.”

The following former student-athletes from each of the conference’s member institutions have been selected as Legends of CIAA Football:

  • Isaac Redman, Bowie State University
  • Robert Holland, Chowan University
  • Johnnie Walton, Elizabeth City State University
  • Bryan Holliday, Fayetteville State University
  • Bruce Duke, Johnson C. Smith University
  • Ben Coates, Livingstone College
  • Leo Lewis (posthumously honored), Lincoln University
  • Robert Headen, Saint Augustine’s University
  • Darnell Evans, Shaw University
  • George Leonard, Virginia State University
  • Sherman Lea, Virginia Union University
  • Anthony Blaylock, Winston-Salem State University

 

Tickets for the 2017 Football Championship game are still on sale and can be purchased at TheCIAA.com. Special rates for students and youth ages 6 to 14 are available. Admission for children ages 5 and under is free.

anthonymcclean@basnnewsroom.com

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