By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
Before we take a look at this weekend’s games, the staff of BASN Newsroom sends out our prayers and wishes to the family and friends of Tennessee State linebacker Christion Abercrombie.
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound sophomore transfer from Illinois University was rushed to the hospital during last Saturday’s game between the Tigers and Vanderbilt after collapsing on the sidelines.
Abercrombie was injured on a play during the second quarter and was administered oxygen on the sidelines before being taken out on a stretcher. He suffered a head injury and was rushed to Vanderbilt Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery.
As of press time, Abercrombie remains in critical condition and is currently in a specialized, neurological ICU according to HBCU Gameday. Doctors declined to elaborate on the specific nature of Abercrombie’s injury but did express that his condition is very rare.
Earlier in the week, the NCAA cruelly showed its pimp hand regarding the matter.
According to several reports, the organization requested that a pair of Go Fund Me pages set up by a local Nashville native and the sister of Tiger head coach Rod Reed be shut down stating that the pages would put Abercrombie’s eligibility in jeopardy.
According to the Tennessean, the NCAA denied that his eligibility would be in question after numerous negative reactions on social media. Eventually, the university set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise funds for the Abercrombie family.
A goal of $250,000 has been set. His medical expenses will be paid by insurance policies provided by Tennessee State University and the NCAA. Also, the College Football Assistance Fund has announced that a grant of $7,500 has been awarded to help the family with travel and loss-of-income expenses.
Those able to assist the family can make donations at www.CFAFund.org, which will be put in a restricted fund. While many HBCU’s will be celebrating homecoming this weekend, here’s hoping that some schools will keep the thoughts and prayers going for the Abercrombie family.
TSU (2-1, 1-0 OVC) will travel to meet Austin Peay (2-3, 0-2) on Saturday at 7 pm ET.
To say that the 83rd Annual Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic will have a little juice this year is clearly an understatement. In what could be an early preview of the SIAC title game, both teams sit atop their respective divisions while remaining undefeated in league play.
With their 5-0 record (1-0 SIAC) to begin the season, the East-leading Maroon Tigers are off to their best start since 2010 when they made a run into the NCAA Division II playoffs.
For the second straight week, Morehouse used some second-half magic to pull out a 23-21 win at Kentucky State. They overcame a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter to remain perfect on the season.
West-leading and defending league champion Tuskegee (3-2, 1-0) held Lane College scoreless through three quarters before finally giving up a touchdown in the final 5:00 en route to a 17-8 victory at Cleve Abbott Memorial Stadium.
Tuskegee has won 20 of the last 24 meetings against Morehouse and has outscored them 189-53 in the last five encounters. The Maroon Tigers’ last win against the Golden Lions came in 2011.
Last year, Tuskegee outlasted Morehouse 23-17 as Jamarcus Ezell scored on a quarterback keeper in overtime. Slated for a 2 pm ET kickoff at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ga., the game can be seen live on ESPN3 and FloFootball.
Riding a three-game winning streak, Benedict College (3-1, 2-0) returns home to Charlie W. Johnson Stadium for a non-conference game against Virginia University of Lynchburg (2-2) at 2 pm ET.
Also, Clark Atlanta (1-4, 0-2) is at Fort Valley State (1-4, 1-1) while Central State (2-3, 2-2) travels to Miles College (0-5, 0-3). The CAU-FVSU matchup, scheduled for a 6 pm ET kickoff, can also be seen on FloFootball.
While North Carolina A&T has made most of the headlines this year, both Florida A&M and Norfolk State are also making some noise in the early season. The Spartans (3-1, 1-0) will visit the Rattlers (3-2, 2-0) in a homecoming battle set for 4 pm ET at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
Off to their best start since 2011, Saturday is the first of three straight road games where the Spartans play on their opponents’ Homecoming. Both teams are coming off explosive performances, with NSU topping Delaware State 54-28 and FAMU rolling to a 55-14 win at N.C. Central last week.
As for the aforementioned Aggies (4-1, 1-0), they’ll travel to Dover to meet Delaware State (0-4, 0-1) in the Hornets’ home opener at 7 pm ET. A&T is playing their third straight winless team and they are 1-1 including an upset loss to Morgan State, another team they were expected to defeat.
The Aggies have won four straight games over the Hornets with the average margin of victory being 26.5 points. The last time the Aggies lost at Alumni Stadium was 24-0 loss in 2012.
Also, Howard (1-2, 1-0) looks to remain unbeaten in conference play after taking a week off. They’ll travel to Durham to meet N.C. Central (1-3, 0-1) at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in a 2 pm ET kickoff.
Last week, the Eagles scored a touchdown on the game’s opening possession, but FAMU posted 48 unanswered points to cruise to a 55-14 road victory. Last season, Howard struck first with a 75-yard touchdown pass but came up short against NCCU (13-7) at Greene Stadium.
All three games can be seen live on ESPN3. And, Mississippi Valley State (0-4, 0-2 SWAC) will make the trip down south to Daytona Beach, Fla. to take on Bethune-Cookman (2-3, 1-1 MEAC) at 4 pm ET.
The Delta Devils are 1-3 all-time against the Wildcats, but it will feature two head coaches who have never faced one another before in MVSU head coach Vincent Dancy and BCU’s Terry Sims.
While Fayetteville State (2-1, 1-0) is the only unbeaten team in conference play in the Southern Division, three Northern Division teams — Bowie State (4-1), Virginia Union (3-1), and Virginia State (2-2) — are all 2-0 in the league in entering Saturday’s play.
Following their last-second win at Winston-Salem State, the Bulldogs will be back on the road this week. They’ll visit Murfreesboro to tangle with the Chowan Hawks (1-3, 0-1). Kickoff at Garrison Stadium is set for 1 pm ET.
Both the Panthers and Trojans will home this weekend. VUU hosts winless Lincoln, Pa. (0-5, 0-2) at 1 pm ET in Richmond while VSU entertains Elizabeth City State (1-2, 0-1) in Ettrick at 2 pm ET.
Reggie Barlow’s crew has won 13 straight conference contests (including last year’s CIAA Championship Game) dating back through three seasons. Their last conference loss was a 38-37 defeat at Bowie State on October 15, 2016.
As for the Broncos, they’ll travel to Durham to meet Shaw (1-3, 0-1) for the Bears’ homecoming game (1 pm ET) at Durham County Stadium. FSU holds an 18-11-5 overall advantage in the series.
While Western Division-leading Prairie View A&M (3-3, 2-0) has the week off, East leader Alcorn State (4-1, 2-0) looks to maintain their momentum. Since a season-opening loss to Georgia Tech, the Braves have been on a four-game winning streak.
ASU will enter week six as the top scoring team and top defensive scoring team in the conference as the Braves have averaged 36.2 points per game while allowing just 15.8 points per contest.
They’ll host Alabama State (1-3, 0-1) for homecoming on Saturday at 3 pm ET. The last time the Braves did not make the conference championship game was in 2013, a year in which Alabama State last won against the Braves – a 49-30 Hornets’ victory.
Looking to bounce back after seeing their 26-game league winning streak snapped last week, Grambling State (1-3, 1-1) steps outside the conference to host Oklahoma Panhandle State (2-3) in the first-ever meeting between the programs at 7 pm ET.
The two teams were not originally scheduled to face each other. Due to Bacone College closing its doors, both teams had a gap in their schedule, thanks in part to Bacone and Oklahoma Panhandle State playing in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Also, Texas Southern (1-3) hosts Alabama A&M (2-3, 1-1) in the Tigers’ league opener at 7 pm ET. This series has favored the home team in recent seasons with the Bulldogs winning last year’s matchup 30-13 in Huntsville and 38-7 in 2015.
However, it was the Tigers who were victories when the game was played in Houston on the even years with TSU pulling out a 34-31 win in 2016 and a 45-23 victory in 2014.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.