By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
Not only did last weekend’s “Separation Saturday” see two schools — Albany State and Fayetteville State — clinch a division title, we also saw the first coaching casualty of the season as Jackson State’s Tony Hughes was let go by Tiger administration.
Following their 41-7 loss to Southern, JSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Ashley Robinson announced that Hughes would not have his contract renewed at the end of the season.
Hughes went 9-20 overall in two-plus seasons with the Tigers including 8-12 in SWAC play. Jackson State is 3-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play this season. Defensive coordinator John Hendrick will serve as the interim coach for the rest of the season.
Jackson State’s last winning season was 8-4 in 2013.
On the field, half of the field for next weekend’s CIAA and SIAC Championship Games are set. Albany State punched their ticket to the SIAC title game for the first time since 2015 with their 21-0 shutout of Benedict College at C.W. Johnson Stadium.
The Golden Rams (6-3, 5-0) extended their win streak to six games, clinched the Eastern Division crown, and tossed their first shutout since a 38-0 Homecoming win over Morehouse College in 2015.
ASU also jumped from 10th to seventh in the latest Super Region Two Regional Rankings.
While the Golden Rams finish the regular season at Fort Valley State in the Fountain City Classic, the Western Division crown will be decided the same two foes who battled for the crown at the end of last season.
Once again, Tuskegee (5-4) and Miles College (3-6) enter Saturday’s battle both 3-2 in countable conference play. Countable conference play is determined by division contests in addition to the final two cross-divisional games.
The two rivals will face off against each other in Fairfield for the divisional crown (3 pm ET) and a chance to host the SIAC title tilt. Last week’s upset loss at Central State proved to be costly for the Golden Lions.
TU, along with Morehouse College and Virginia Union, were all knocked out of the aforementioned Super Region Two Regional Rankings following their losses last weekend.
The Tuskegee at Miles College contest can be seen live on FloSports.com while the Albany State vs. Fort Valley State game, scheduled for a 2 pm ET kickoff in Columbus, will be seen live on ESPN3.
After clinching the Southern Division crown for a second straight season, Fayetteville State (6-1, 5-0) now sits 10th in the regional rankings. The top eight teams in each of the four Super Regions are invited to the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
The Broncos’ convincing 45-7 win over Livingstone College coupled with Winston-Salem State’s loss to Shaw gave FSU the division crown. While the Rams and Broncos will finish the season against each other at Fayetteville, the Northern Division is still up for grabs.
Bowie State (7-2) and Virginia Union (6-2) are both currently 4-1 in conference play which means that, at this moment, the Bulldogs would take the title over the Panthers due to winning the head-to-head contest 27-13 on October 20.
If the Bulldogs defeat Elizabeth City State this weekend, they will secure the Northern Division title. If the Bulldogs lose and Virginia Union tops Virginia State, BSU will be 4-2 and VUU will be 5-1 in CIAA play and the title will be awarded to the Panthers.
The Bulldogs are now ranked fourth in the regional rankings.
Also, BSU senior quarterback Amir Hall is three touchdown passes shy of becoming the CIAA’s All-Time Touchdown Passing Leader, to surpass Kameron Smith of Winston Salem State who currently holds the record at 93.
Hall is also chasing the CIAA All-Time Passing Yards Leader, NCCU’s Earl “Air” Harvey’s record of 10,621. He’s accumulated 10,198 passing yards in just three seasons leaving him 424 yards away from setting a new milestone.
All three aforementioned CIAA contests will kick off at 1 pm ET and will be seen live on the league’s Digital Sports Network. The Winston-Salem State at Fayetteville State game will also be broadcasted on the Aspire Network.
While East-leading Alcorn State (7-2, 5-1) will step out of conference this weekend to play at FBS Independent New Mexico State (4 pm ET), the Braves could clinch the division Saturday with losses by Jackson State and Alabama State.
JSU will host Prairie View A&M (3-5, 2-2) in what amount to an elimination game with the loser being eliminated from title contention. As for the Hornets (2-5, 1-2), they’ll host Texas Southern (2-6, 1-3).
ASU has won six of the last seven meetings, with the lone Texas Southern win during the streak coming in 2016 when the Tigers claimed a 31-27 victory. Both games are scheduled for a 3 pm ET kickoff.
The ASU-TSU contest can also be seen live on HBCU Gameday.
West-leading Southern (5-3, 4-1) is idle this week. The Jaguars control their destiny as they have remaining conference games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-7, 0-4) on the 10th and the Bayou Classic against Grambling State two weeks later.
GSU (4-4, 3-2) still has an outside shot at winning the West. The Tigers remaining SWAC games include Saturday’s home contest against Mississippi Valley State (1-6, 1-3) and the aforementioned Bayou Classic on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Tigers currently hold a five-game winning streak against the Delta Devils and GSU head man Broderick Fobbs is 4-0 all-time against Mississippi Valley State. The game is slated for a 3 pm ET kickoff.
The comeback story of Florida A&M (6-2, 5-0) and their quest for the conference crown takes another step Saturday as they travel to Washington, D.C. to meet Howard (3-4, 2-2) at 1 pm ET.
One of the keys to FAMU’s turnaround has been their underrated defense which currently ranks among the country’s leaders in total defense (23rd) and scoring defense (8th).
Entering last week’s game against South Carolina State, the Bison were ranked No. 1 in the MEAC in total offense, averaging 506.8 yards per game, but the Bulldogs held HU to 320 yards offensively.
North Carolina A&T (6-2, 3-1) will look to keep pace with the Rattlers as they host Norfolk State (3-4, 1-3) in the Aggies’ Homecoming at 1 pm ET. The Spartans have lost four straight games to A&T and are 3-17 against the Aggies in Greensboro.
In the previous seven seasons, A&T has won Homecoming by an average of 31.7 points.
Also, North Carolina Central (3-4, 2-2) will host Edward Waters for their Homecoming at 2 pm ET while Bethune-Cookman (4-5, 2-2) travels to meet Morgan State (2-6, 1-3) at 4 pm ET.
All four games can be seen live on ESPN3.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.