By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
As the last Saturday in October approaches, it also denotes the time where postseason berths are won and lost. The jockeying for a spot in December’s Celebration Bowl is hot and heavy within the MEAC and SWAC.
Meanwhile, we’re also two weeks away from the championships games within the SIAC and CIAA. In fact, five teams from these two conferences are featured prominently in the latest Division II Super Region Two Regional Rankings.
Leaders in the CIAA’s Northern Division, Bowie State (6-2) sits at number five with Morehouse College (7-1), Virginia Union (5-2), Tuskegee (5-3), and Albany State (5-3) ranked seven through 10 respectively.
The top eight teams from each of the four Super Regions receive berths in the 32-team playoffs that begin on November 17th. Needless to say, but a lot can happen between now and the next few weeks.
While we ponder that, let’s take a look at the key games set for this weekend.
While the Bulldogs are tied with Virginia State (4-3) and Virginia Union with a 3-1 division mark, wins over the Trojans and Panthers in the last two weeks gives Bowie State the inside track for a berth in the CIAA Championship Game.
BSU travels to Lincoln, Pa. this weekend (1 pm ET) to meet the 1-7 Lions. The Bulldogs will host Elizabeth City State (1-5) in their regular-season finale. LU was beaten by Virginia State 54-7 last week at the Trojans’ homecoming.
VSU will host Chowan (2-4, 2-2) in Ettrick at 2 pm ET. The Trojans lead the all-time series vs. the Hawks with a 7-1 record, including a 3-1 mark at Rogers Stadium. They’ll travel to Richmond to meet VUU in the season finale on November 3rd.
The Panthers travel to ECSU Saturday at 1 pm ET for the Vikings’ Homecoming contest.
The Southern Division could likely come down to next weekend’s season finale between current leader Fayetteville State (5-1, 4-0) and Winston-Salem State (4-3, 3-1) at Luther “Nick” Jeralds Stadium.
FSU will host Livingstone (2-5) for the Broncos’ homecoming Saturday at 2 pm ET. WSSU travels to Shaw (3-4) for the Bears’ homecoming. A Bronco win followed by a WSSU loss on Saturday would clinch the division for Fayetteville State.
The Winston-Salem State at Shaw game, scheduled for a 1 pm ET kickoff, will be featured live on the Aspire Network. All games can also be seen live on the CIAA Digital Sports Network.
Since opening 0-3, Albany State has won five straight and taken the driver’s seat in the Eastern Division with a 4-0 mark. The Golden Rams can clinch the division with a win over second-place Benedict College (5-2, 3-1) in the Tigers’ Homecoming at 2 pm ET.
BC is also tied with Morehouse College (7-1, 3-1) for second in the East. A win by the Tigers and Maroon Tigers on Saturday could put the East in a three-way tie heading into the final weekend
Morehouse hosts Fort Valley State (1-7, 1-3) for their Homecoming Saturday at 2 pm ET.
In the West, Tuskegee (3-1) holds a half-game lead over Miles College (2-2) with two games remaining. The Golden Lions travel this week to Wilberforce, Ohio to face Central State (3-5, 1-3) at 1 pm ET.
The Golden Bears (2-6) travel to Georgia to meet Clark Atlanta Saturday at 1 pm ET. A Tuskegee win coupled with a Miles College loss will give the Golden Lions the division title.
If they both win, the West will be decided by next weekend’s showdown in Fairfield, Ala. between the two. This year, the Western Division winner will be the host for the SIAC Championship Game scheduled for Saturday, November 10th.
By the way, Saturday’s games between Tuskegee vs. Central State, Albany State vs. Benedict College, and Fort Valley State vs. Morehouse College can all be seen live on FloSports.com
Florida A&M (5-2, 4-0) controls its own destiny as the lone undefeated team in the conference while North Carolina A&T (3-1), Howard (3-1) and N.C. Central (2-1) follow with one loss each.
The Rattlers already have wins against A&T and NCCU and they’ll travel to Howard next weekend. Before that, FAMU will host Morgan State (2-5, 1-2) in Tallahassee Saturday at 4 pm ET.
The Bears haven’t won at Tallahassee since a 24-9 victory on October 4, 2014.
While A&T is idle this weekend, the Eagles and Bison will look to keep pace. NCCU travels to Dover to meet winless Delaware State (0-7, 0-4) in the Hornets’ Homecoming (2 pm ET) at Alumni Stadium.
As for Howard, they’ll host South Carolina State (2-5, 2-2) at 1 pm ET. for Homecoming at Greene Stadium. In fact, three of the Bison’s remaining four games will be in Washington.
Howard’s “Go-Go” offense is currently ranked among nation’s best, standing seventh overall (506.8 ypg). The Bulldogs will be seeking consecutive wins for the first time this season.
All three games, including Bethune-Cookman at Nebraska, can be seen live on ESPN3.
When co-East leader Alcorn State (6-2, 4-1) travels to meet co-West leader Prairie View A&M (3-4, 2-1) in the Panthers’ Homecoming on Saturday (3 pm ET), you can most likely expect a high scoring affair.
ASU and PVAM have totaled at least 54 points in eight consecutive matchups dating back to the 2010 season including three games in which they combined to score at least 85 points from 2012-2014.
The highest scoring match up featured a 77-48 win by Alcorn State in 2014.
In another East-West showdown, Jackson State (3-3, 2-1) travels to Baton Rouge to meet Southern (4-3, 3-1) at 7 pm ET. Both schools have stiffened up their defense when it comes to SWAC play.
SU ranks first in points allowed per game (13.5) while JSU is ranked second by allowing 18.3 points per contest. The Jaguars leads the all-time series 32–29 after winning the last five in the series including last year’s 35-17 victory.
Grambling State (3-3, 2-2) will be seeking to keep pace with the Jags as they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 3 pm ET. GSU has beaten UAPB in four straight seasons dating back to 2013 when the Golden Lions came away with a 45-42 victory.
Also, Alabama State (2-4, 1-1) meets Alabama A&M (3-4, 2-2) in the 77th Magic City Classic in Birmingham at 3:30 pm ET. The classic is the largest HBCU event in the nation attracting nearly 200,000 participants.
The Bulldogs lead the series with a record of 40-38-3 all-time, but the Hornets came away victorious in last year’s edition by the count of 21-16. The game can also be seen live on ESPN3.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.