By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Tuskegee at Winston-Salem State (This has always been one of the biggest HBCU Division II matchups each year and this one shouldn't disappoint either. WSSU still lays claim to being the best HBCU D-II team after a solid showing so far this season. They haven't missed a beat after losing head coach Connell Maynor to Hampton. The Rams lost a close game to perennial power Valdosta State last week, but are balanced and strong. Tuskegee is 1-1 after losing to Alabama A&M but held off Albany State last week. Quarterback Justin Nared still hasn't hit his stride, but is solid)
Morehouse vs. Central State (The Maroon Tigers are looking to get back into Division II action after losing to Howard last week 35-17. Morehouse hopes to look more like the team that ran Edward Waters down in their season opener. Central State is 0-2 so far, but looked respectable in their loss to Texas Southern last week)
Benedict at Elizabeth City State (The 17th Annual Down East Viking Football Classic features two teams trying to truly find their personalities after season-opening blowout losses followed by big wins. Benedict was throttled by South Carolina State, but followed up with a big win over Lane, fueled by the Sept. 8 SIAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week, quarterback Cameron Stover. ECSU fell to North Carolina Central, but gutted out a win over Tusculum last week. Running back Petey Boone rushed for 88 yards and a TD in their win.
Lane at Paine (For a team in its first competitive football season since the early 1960s, Paine has hardly been a pushover so far this season. They've lost their two games by a total of only seven points against two decent teams. They've averaged over 30 points a game on offense, but give up a little on defense. Lane has also struggled on defense in two losses this season. They gave up 20 unanswered fourth quarter points to Clark Atlanta to lose 20-17 last week and gave up 39 points and 400 yards of offense in losing to Benedict 39-7 in their opener)
St. Augustine's at Stillman (These two teams are looking for their first wins of the season. St. Aug's has been beaten by Wingate and Indiana (Pa) fairly easily while Stillman was plastered 52-0 by Samford last week. St. Aug is balanced on offense, but struggles on defense. Stillman is led by quarterback Josh Straughan Jr. and running back Javontae Thurmon, though their offense has problems scoring)
Clark Atlanta at Fort Valley State (Fort Valley State is hoping they've completely shaken off their season opening blowout loss to Delta State after their convincing win over Savannah State last weekend. The Wildcats had five sacks and gave up only 60 yards rushing to SSU. Clark Atlanta's running game, led by Montavious Taylor, is key for a team that has holes on defense)
Miles at Hampton (This is a big game for Hampton, one in which head coach Connell Maynor says "This game's really not about them. It's about us." At 0-3, Hampton needs a win and needs offense. They've been outscored 2-to-1 this season. Miles has been part of two blowouts (a 30-6 win over Shaw and a 26-0 loss last week to West Georgia) so they are trying to find themselves. RB Jonathan Clark has been a bright spot, averaging 126 yards a game so far)
Alcorn State at Mississippi Valley State (Mississippi Valley State's problem this season hasn't been on offense, that's for sure. They have two quarterbacks who have been mostly solid in this week's starter Patrick Ivy and last week's SWAC Newcomer of the week Dontrinell Scott, along with the SWAC's top receiver, Julian Stafford. They've just haven't been able to stop Illnois State (62-0 loss) and Alabama State (47-22 loss). Alcorn State has been moving the ball with ease, though they've played two underwhelming teams - Virginia-Lynchburg and Lousisiana College - in their two blowout wins. But they went toe to toe with Southern Miss in a close 26-20 loss)
Grambling State at Jackson State (These two teams open SWAC play with Grambling still looking for their win of 2014. This is a team that is getting better after two big losses to Lamar and Houston. Grambling had top-ranked Bethune-Cookman on the ropes last week, leading late before losing. Jackson State is trying to get back on the winning side after being routed by Tennessee State, a team that completely shut down the J-State offense. This game should be a better barometer of what kind of team Jackson State is after they blew out a bad Virginia-Lynchburg team and needing a last second TD to beat FAMU in the opener. One thing for sure, the band battle will be GREAT.)
Southern at Prairie View A&M (Southern heads into Prairie View looking for consistency. In losses to Lousiana-Lafayette and Northwestern State, they've been outscored 96-33. But they blew out Central Methodist 56-14. Prairie View has been consistently bad on defense. They have the SWAC's worst scoring defense (42 points a game so far) and have given up 502 yards a game, the main reason they are 0-3 so far in 2014)
Alabama A&M at Texas Southern (Texas Southern has jumped out to a 3-0 record with an offense that has put up at least 30 points in each game. Daveonn Porter has been solid in the running game while three quarterbacks have kept the passing game moving, though not explosive. They add even more to the running game. Alabama A&M at 1-2 has a win over Tuskegee, but two bad losses to UAB last week and North Carolina A&T in their opener. The problem - pass defense. On the other hand, the run defense has been solid in all three games, making this the battle of immovable objects)
Bowie State at Concord (Bowie State looked good in a close loss to Saint Anselm to start the season, but they ran into a tough Morgan State team in a second half, 28-3 rout last week. Kendall Jefferson anchors a good Bulldog offense that focuses on the run. It's defense - especially in the second half - where they have issues. That's bad news for Bowie State as Concord sports one of the top offenses in Division II, averaging 54 points a game)
Lincoln (Pa) at Montclair State (Lincoln couldn't slow down North Carolina Wesleyan last week in their 27-0 loss. They gave up 215 yards passing and 216 yards rushing. This week, the Lions take on Division III Montclair State, a 1-1 team that has struggled on offense but is stingy against the run, giving up only 92 yards a game so far this season)
Virginia-Lynchburg at Livingstone (Livingstone is 2-0 one the legs and arm of quarterback Drew Powell. He had five touchdowns, three rushing and two passing, in a 48-45 win over Paine last week. The week before he threw three TDs in the fourth quarter to pull out a 46-44 win over Millersville. The Livingstone defense should get a rest as VUL has been outscored and overmatched in big losses to Jackson State and Alcorn State this season)
Johnson C. Smith at West Georgia (Johnson C. Smith didnt get much time to enjoy their close 13-6 win over Kentucky State last week after getting destroyed by Charlotte 56-0 to open the season. Now they visit West Georgia, a team that has only given up one offensive touchdown in three wins and have the nation's 12th best rushing offense. They have three backs who have averaged 100 yards rushing. And it's homecoming at West Georgia)
Virginia Union at Fayetteville State (Fayetteville State could be 2-0 if they could win the second half of games this season. They gave up 20 in the fourth quarter to Chowan to lose their opener and ten against UNC Pembroke in losing a close game last week. In a 13-0 win over Siena Heights last week, Virginia Union fixed a leaky run defense that gave up 236 yards and 20 first downs rushing to Charleston in a 38-22 loss the first week)
Chowan at North Carolina A&T (North Carolina A&T averages 270 yards a game, which has kept them close during two tough contests in the past two weeks, a late win over Elon and a late loss to Coastal Carolina after blowing out Alabama A&M in their opener. Chowan was blown out last week and will have shore up a leaky defense that has given up an average of 456 yards and 34 points in two games)
UNC Pembroke at Shaw (Shaw has lost both of their games with 30-6 scores against Miles and West Alabama. The offense has struggled getting first downs, mainly because the running game has been non-existent. UNC Pembroke bounced back from a big loss at Winston Salem State with a come from behind win over Fayetteville State last week. But they too struggle on on offense with a running game that has generated little)
Delaware State at Temple (Delaware State is heading into a hornets' nest. The Hornets take on a surly Temple squad that lost by a touchdown to Navy last week. That came after a huge win over SEC squad Vanderbilt. The Hornets have given up at least 21 points in all three losses and haven't scored over nine points but once, in a 56-21 loss to Monmouth)
Morgan State vs. Howard (This rivalry will be one of the most intriguing matchups of the day. Both teams are 1-2, but have been more than competitive in each game. Howard quarterback Greg McGhee continues to impress, with three touchdowns last week against Morehouse. Morgan blew out Bowie State last week after heartbreaking losses at Holy Cross and Eastern Michigan)
Norfolk State at Buffalo (In the first ever meeting between the two schools, Buffalo is trying to get back on the winning side after losses to Baylor (63-21) and Army (47-39). They are led by Joe Licata's nine touchdown passes in three games. The Spartans defense hasn't allowed more than 100 yards rushing in any game so far this season. But the offense only two touchdowns in their three losses, and those two came last week against William & Mary)
Coastal Carolina at Florida A&M (Florida A&M was valiant against Miami two weeks ago in their 41-7 loss in a game they had no chance to win going in. And it took Jackson State a last minute TD to beat the Rattlers, so FAMU is hungry. Coastal Carolina is a tough team. They are ranked fifth in the nation's FCS standings, have averaged 30 points a game and except for a rough game with North Carolina A&T, they've dominated on defense)
Furman at South Carolina State (For South Carolina State, this is the second week they'll have to battle a ranked FCS opponent. Last week they lost 30-3 to fifth ranked Coastal Carolina. The week before, they were obliterated by FBS power Clemson, both making their season-opening blowout over Benedict seem deep in the past. Furman knocked off SCSU in the first round of the FCS playoffs. Their offense is sluggish as freshman QB Dillon Woodruff tries to get his footing. The Paladin defense has been stiff though.
Bethune-Cookman at Central Florida (Bethune-Cookman, the nation's top-ranked HBCU FCS team, was surprised by a game Grambling team last week. They won, but it took some work. Now they face their second FBS opponent in Central Florida, a team that is looking for their first win of the season after a bowl season last year. But they lost a close one to Penn State and were fell last week to Missouri. Bethune-Cookman's defense was solid against Florida International but was exposed against Grambling)
North Carolina Central at Towson (At 1-2, Towson isn't playing like the team that was in the FCS championship game last season. Their defense has been bad and the offense worse, averaging less than 100 yards passing a game so far, though they scored 21 in a win over Delaware State last week. North Carolina Central has a balanced offense that leans more on the two quarterbacks, Malcolm Bell and Quinn Billerman. The Eagles played well in a loss to a solid Charlotte team last week)
Tennessee State at Tennessee Tech (They are in "The Hole" at Tennessee State today, the legendary stadium on the TSU campus that hosts just a few of their games now since they play most of their home games at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. That provides extra nostalgia for a TSU team that recovered nicely from losing to Alabama State two weeks ago by rolling over Jackson State last week. Tech, a rival from just up I-40 from TSU, is 1-1 and always plays TSU tough. TSU did beat Tech 41-21 last season.