Saturday, October 5, 2013
South Carolina State and North Carolina A&T Battle in Atlanta; Other HBCU Football Action on Saturday
By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
It will be a playoff atmosphere in Atlanta today and that's not because of the Braves being in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State, the two top teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the nation, battle in the 25th Annual Atlanta Football Classic at the Georgia Dome. The Aggies are 3-0 this season while South Carolina State is 3-2, but only blemished by a close loss to Coastal Carolina and a mismatch at Clemson.
Aggies head coach Rod Broadway said the game is a big one for his program as it returns from some down years, particularly a two-year NCAA probabation.
"I think we’re making progress and I think we’re getting better," he said during the MEAC teleconference this week. "You can’t get too carried away with winning three ball games. We’re pleased to be undefeated and have three ball games and I think we’re getting close. Now when we can do what South Carolina State has done, what Bethune-Cookman’s done, then I’d say we’ve turned the corner. But we’re not there yet. That’s why this games is so important to us because it gives us a chance to play against the people that’s been winning this league the last 10 years."
The Aggies sport the MEAC's stingest defense, allowing only 16 points per game while the Bulldogs lead the MEAC in scoring, piling up almost 31 points per game.
That makes South Carolina State's head coach Buddy Pough a little wary.
“They remind me a bunch of ourselves,” he said. “It’s a whole team filled with guys that can run. They do a good job of keeping a lot of eyes on the football, so they break and run to the football extremely well. So they’re a tough team to deal with on defense.”
The game will be broadcast live by the Heritage Sports Radio Network (HSRN), which is available on Sirius XM across the country. Kickoff at the Georgia Dome is at 3:30 p.m. EST.
Two of the SIAC's Top Teams, Tuskegee and Fort Valley State, Tangle
Fort Valley State hosts Tuskegee in a big game that will go a long way in determining if Fort Valley State is really the contenders that they normally are.
This is a team that lost their first two games this season (though one was to perennial national power, Valdosta State) and barely got past winless Clark Atlanta two weeks ago.
Head coach Donald Pittman told The Macon Telegraph that though his team has won their last two games, they have hardly been world-beaters.
“We were inconsistent on offense, and we struggled,” Pittman said of last week’s 35-30 win over Benedict. “The run game wasn’t that effective, neither was the passing game. You look at it realistically, the offensive linemen, there are only two (back) from last year. Usually it takes time for the offensive line to jell, and you need that time.”
Meanwhile, Tuskegee is rolling along. The Golden Tigers' only loss so far this season was to the nation's top ranked HBCU Division II football team, Winston-Salem State, and they've soundly beaten a FCS-Division I team in Alabama A&M. They do it with a tough defense, ranked second in the SIAC, and a steady offense that averages 24 points per game.
But after last week's win over Lane, Tuskegee head coach Willie Slater said his team is focused on each step it will take to win an SIAC title.
"This win is the first step towards what we want to accomplish," he said, "and we just have to take it a week at a time and begin to focus on Fort Valley State."
Here is your primer on all the other HBCU football action today:
- Grambling is in search of their first win since Oct. 20, 2012 when they take on Prairie View in the Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic in Dallas.
- Alabama A&M hosts Mississippi Valley State in their homecoming game
- Texas Southern looks for their first win of the season when they host Alabama State
- Alcorn State tries to stay undefeated at home as they host homecoming opponent Warner
- Winless Arkansas-Pine Bluff has a steep challenge as they visit Jackson State
- Kentucky State hosts Alderson-Broaddus
- Morehouse hosts their Atlanta University Center rival from a block away, Clark Atlanta University
- Winless Central State is the homecoming opponent for undefeated West Texas A&M
- Miles tries to follow up their first win of the season when they face Benedict
- It's Community Day at Howard as the Bison host North Carolina Central
- Winless Morgan State tries to get their first victory over Florida A&M since 2009 during the Bears homecoming this weekend
- Delaware State's home opener is a tough one -- they host top-ranked HBCU team Bethune-Cookman
- Two one-win teams, Norfolk State and Savannah State, battle in Norfolk
- Johnson C. Smith looks to get back on the winning side when they host Lincoln (Pa.)
- Virginia Union visits a tough Livingstone squad
- Virginia State visits Shaw in a big game for both squads
- St. Augustine's hosts winless Elizabeth City State
- Top-ranked Division II Winston-Salem State hosts 2-2 Bowie State on Community Day
- Nationally-ranked Tennessee State gets back into Ohio Valley Conference play when they host Southeast Missouri State
- Langston looks for their first win at Southwestern Assemblies of God
at 6:40 AM