In what is the biggest game in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference this season, the conference's only two undefeated MEAC teams, South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman, do battle today.
Bethune-Cookman, 6-1 overall with their only loss at Florida State and have defeated the nation's top HBCU Division I-FCS team Tennessee State, is a proven commodity. South Carolina State, at 5-2 overall, is hoping this game, which is Bethune-Cookman's homecoming game, is their coming out party.
The Bulldogs have one five straight, sport the MEAC's top scoring offense at 32 points per game and have the top defense in the conference and have the second most sacks in the nation with 31.
"Bethune is what we used to be," South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pough said. "They got to the point where they expect to win any time they play a conference game."
Bethune-Cookman is a tough opponent. The have the conference's top offense and the second best defense.
And Brian Jenkins, the Wildcats head football coach, said his team is ready for the Bulldogs.
“I mean we're excited. We're ready, we're excited. We're ready, we're excited,'' Jenkins told the Daytona Beach News Journal. “I'm looking forward to it. We're home, it's homecoming. We're playing the Bulldogs. We're excited. We are excited. It's going to be exciting football, standing-room only. It's going to be a battle. It's going to be really good. I'm excited about it. I'm excited. I'm very excited about it. Ex-cit-ed about this ball game.''
So is the rest of the conference.
|Photo by George Walker IV/The Tennessean|
Top-Ranked Tennessee State Battles FCS' Second-Best Team, Eastern Illinois
Tennessee State is up against its toughest test of the season during one of the Big Blue's most festive times of the year -- homecoming.
The Tigers, 7-1 and walking through the season besides their one blemish against Bethune-Cookman, host Eastern Illinois, a team that is 6-1.
The Tigers boast one of the nation's top defenses, second nationally in total defense and scoring defense as they give up on 13 points per game. Eastern Illinois leads the FCS in scoring offense (48 points per game) and total offense (595 yards per contest).
“We just have to find a way to slow them down to give ourselves a chance," TSU head coach Rod Reed told The Tennessean. "When you add the element of homecoming for our football team, it is going to be a huge game.”
Eastern Illinois head coach Dino Babers had similar thoughts of the Tigers.
"This is the best defense I have seen on tape at the FCS level," he told The Tennessean. "It is going to be very interesting when we get down there.”
Kickoff at LP Field is 4 p.m. central time.
Here is the preview of all the other HBCU football matchups today:
- Injury plagued Morehouse hosts one of the top Division II defensive teams in Benedict in the Maroon Tigers homecoming game in Atlanta. Benedict is looking to climb to the .500 mark.
- In homecoming action at Fort Valley State, the Wildcats will try not to lose their fourth-consecutive game when they host Concordia Selma-College.
- In another homecoming battle in the Atlanta University Center, Clark Atlanta hosts Albany State who is looking for their first back-to-back wins this season.
- The nation's second-best Division II HBCU football team, Tuskegee, heads to the Bluegrass State to take on Kentucky State. The 4-3 Thorobreds are hoping for an upset and to climb to .500 in the SIAC West Division.
- Morgan State, whose only two wins of the season has them in the thick of the MEAC conference race, visits struggling homecoming host Howard who got their second win of the season last week.
- Delaware State and Hampton will battle for the second or third place spot in the MEAC. Hampton, the host, will be looking for their third straight win.
- Norfolk State will try to avoid their third straight loss when they host Old Dominion. The Spartans have lost two close games after winning two wins in a row.
- North Carolina A&T, whose promising season suddenly hit a downturn two weeks ago in Atlanta, tries to climb over the .500 mark and break a three-game losing streak at Florida A&M
- Savannah State looks for their first MEAC win when they host North Carolina Central in their homecoming game. NCCU is trying to break a two-game losing streak and climb back to the .500 mark
- The nation's top Division II HBCU football team, Winston-Salem State, visits Lincoln (Pa) in the 2-5 Blue Bears homecoming game.
- It will be mano-y-mano as the two of the CIAA's top rushing teams, Virginia Union and homestanding Bowie State, clash in Maryland. Virginia Union is on a three-game winning streak while Bowie State tries to break their four-game losing streak
- St. Augustine's will try to get to the .500 mark and take second place from Fayetteville State in the Broncos' homecoming game. The Broncos are 3-1 in the CIAA while St. Augustine's is 2-2.
- Chowan hosts Elizabeth City State in their homecoming game. Chowan is trying to avoid their first back-to-back losses of the season. ECSU is trying to get their third win in the last four games.
- Two of the highest scoring teams in the CIAA link up in Johnson C. Smith's homecoming game against Shaw. Both average more than 30 points a game and sport 4-3 records
- Lincoln (Pa), a 1-6 team, is looking for a big homecoming upset when then take on Virginia State, who is 6-1. The Trojans are undefeated in the CIAA while Lincoln is looking for their first CIAA win this season.
- Its homecoming day in Itta Bena, Miss., where Mississippi Valley State hosts winless Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Delta Devils got their only win of the season three weeks ago and hope to break their two-game losing streak
- One of the biggest HBCU classics will be played in Birmingham, Ala., today when Alabama State and Alabama A&M battle in the Magic City Classic. The Hornets are 5-2 and are ranked among the nation's top HBCU Division I-FCS teams while Alabama A&M is struggling through a 2-5 season.
- The SWAC's top team this season, Jackson State, takes on surging Prairie View in The Shreveport Classic in Shreveport, La. Prairie View is 4-2 in the SWAC West Division while the Tigers 6-0 and lead the East.
- In another big intra-conference clash, Southern hosts Alcorn State in the Jaguars homecoming game. At 4-1, Southern leads the SWAC East Division while Alcorn State is 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the SWAC's West Division
- Grambling is back on the field, hosting Texas Southern. Grambling is hoping that a unified team will come out and get their first victory of the season against a Texas Southern team that only has one win this season.