By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
It doesn't get much better than this.
The FCS' top HBCU squad, Bethune-Cookman visits South Carolina State, who at 4-3 doesn't look like a team that BCU will have a problem with. But this is South Carolina State.
Two of South Carolina State's losses came at the hands of ACC powerhouse Clemson and to FCS power Coastal Carolina. They ripped off three straight wins before being tripped up by North Carolina Central two weeks ago, making this a must-win for the Bulldogs.
"It's a win or go home type situation for us," said SCSU head coach Buddy Pough at his weekly
news conference Monday. "The ox is in the ditch and we have to get him
out. Our backs are against the wall and we have to find a way to win a
South Carolina State doesn't excel at any phase of the game. They are just solid and make few mistakes. But a number of injuries, particularly at the quarterback position where freshman Calvin Giles-McGary may have to start, has made things a tougher for the Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, Bethune-Cookman has been rolling since their only loss, a 41-6 drubbing by Central Florida. They've won four straight and have averaged 39 points a game during that streak.
Larry Brimh stepped in for quarterback Quentin Williams and threw three touchdowns and ran for another in last week's win over Savannah State And Anthony Jordan has been solid on the ground for BCU. But the Wildcats have a nasty defense that is fifth nationally and fourth in rushing defense, giving up only 77 yards on the groud per game this year.
It all makes for an interesting battle in Orangesburg.
“There are a lot of things riding on this game,” Bethune-Cookman head coach Brian Jenkins told the Daytona News Journal. “And
we’re ready for it. You have two different styles, two different
philosophies, but I think we have some commonalities in that both of us
want to win and both of us are aggressive in what we do.”
Here is a look at the rest of the HBCU football games on tap today:
Alcorn State at Prairie View A&M (This should be a very interesting contest. Just three weeks ago, Prairie View's season looked like it was over after losing their first four games. But they've won their last three and have averaged 44 points a game during this stretch. QB Jerry Lovelocke has been solid, throwing three touchdowns last week. Alcorn State is looking for not only a SWAC title this year. At 6-2, they are battling for an NCAA FCS playoff berth. Losing to surging Grambling hurt, but defeating a good Texas Southern team last week helped)
Alabama State vs. Alabama A&M (Alabama State was flying high during a four-game winning streak that included big wins over Tennessee State and Texas Southern. But then came losses to Alcorn State and Prairie View. The SWAC;s top rusher, Malcolm Cyrus is steady, averaging 130 yards a game and likely going over 1,000 yards on the season in this game. Alabama A&M has played a tough schedule in going 2-5, having to deal with the likes of North Carolina A&T, UAB, Texas Southern, Grambling and Division II Tuskegee (a win). Jaymason Lee has thrown for 1300 yards and ten touchdowns for A&M and does provide a spark there)
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Texas Southern (It continues to be a dismal season for Arkansas-Pine Bluff. They were dispatched by Grambling easily last week as they have real defensive issues. Aside from a shut out of Concordia (Ala), UAPB has given up at least 33 points in every game. They gave up 63 to Grambling last week and 51 to Southern the game before. A bright spot is quarterback Benjamin Anderson, who is second in total offense. He had 523 yards of total offense against Grambling. Texas Southern has lost two of the last three games and hasnt been clicking on offense the past three weeks. Daveonn Porter, the SWAC's second leading rusher, could be looking for a big game this week)
Southern at Jackson State (Jackson State has had a very uneven 2014 at 3-4 overall, 1-3 in the SWAC and they've lost their last two games. LaMontiez Ivy is having a good season at quarterback, but J-State running game is the worst in the SWAC. Southern is headed in the opposite direction. They've won their last two games, though they were against a one-win Arkansas-Pine Bluff and two-win Mississippi Valley State. The Jaguars are led by freshman quarterback Austin Howard and sophomore running back Leonard Tillery.
Livingstone at Winston Salem State (Depending on which Livinstone team shows up, this could be a big game or a really ugly game. Is it Livinstone that won their first four games this season or is it the Livingsone that's lost two of their last three against Elizabeth City State and St. Augustine's? Winston-Salem State is not a question. They are the best HBCU Division II team)
Johnson C. Smith at Shaw (These are two make up the bottom of the CIAA Southern Division. Johnson C. Smith's offense is the league's worst - last week was the first time they scored since Sept. 27. Shaw quarterback Trey Folston, the CIAA's leading passer, only had 84 yards passing in last week's one-point loss to Livingstone. Johnson C. Smith gives up the second-most passing yards a game in the conference)
Bowie State at Virginia Union (Virginia Union has continued their dominance, churning out 545 yards of offense and gaving up only 94 yards rushing against Chowan last week. This week, the league's top passing team hosts a Bowie State squad that plays good defense, evident in their only giving up 186 yards of offense to Virginia State last week. Bowie has the CIAA's fourth-best pass defense, making this an interesting matchup on paper)
Chowan at Elizabeth City State (Elizabeth City State is looking to get to the .500 level overall and stay just a game behind Virginia Union and Virginia State in the CIAA Northern Division. They picked up their first road win last week as they spoiled Lincoln's homecoming. Chowan has problems on defense. In their six losses, the fewest amount of points they've given up is 33 points. Offensively, the rely on a running game led by DaSean Martin)
Fayetteville State at St. Augustine's (Fayetteville State has won three straight games with a balanced offense that isnt particularly prolific. They've also won three straight against three CIAA teams that have won a combined four games this season. They face a St. Aug's team that isn't great defensively, but have played reasonably well against the three best teams in the CIAA the past three weeks, even though they only have one win out of those three games. Cyril Davis is St. Aug's steady quarterback and Roderick Davenport is averaging 113 yards a game on the ground)
Lincoln (Pa) at Virginia State (The Lincoln defense is about to get another test this week when they visit a Virginia State team that's on a roll. They've won five straight, have averaged well over 30 points a game over those last five games and are looking more and more like the team that was in last year's CIAA championship game. Lincoln has continued to struggle during a one-win season where they have one of the CIAA's worst offenses and defenses.)
Florida A&M at North Carolina A&T (Florida A&M is playing much better football, having won their last two games. They are 2-1 in the MEAC and though they aren't eligible for the MEAC title this year, they could be a factor in the race. But they are heading to A&T which is on a nice roll. They've won five of their last six and two since losing to South Carolina State. Tarik Cohen has had two 100-yard rushing games the past two weeks. With Morgan State and surprising Norfolk State, A&T is one game behind Bethune-Cookman and can't afford a loss)
Hampton at Delaware State (Hampton's high-flying passing game was grounded last week against a surging Norfolk State squad. So Connell Maynor will be looking to get quarterback Jaylian Williamson back on track against defensive-minded Delaware State. The Hornets aren't much on offense, but they are the MEAC's third-best defense. More importantly, they have the conference's top passing defense featuring DBs Devon Moore and Terrick Colston, along with tackle machine Alex Perry and sack machine Rodney Gunter)
Savannah State at North Carolina Central (North Carolina Central had Morgan State beat last week, but let MSU quarterback Robert Council beat them late. But the Eagles are 2-1 and can get back into the crowded MEAC field chasing Bethune-Cookman. Malcolm Bell has been solid at quarterback for Central and is second in total offense in the MEAC. Savannah State is still looking for their first win of the season and ranks near the bottom of every major MEAC statistical category.
Morgan State at Villanova (Morgan State steps out of MEAC play to hit the road at fourth-ranked Villanova. Villanova is 6-1 and led by quarterback John Robertson, who has thrown for more than 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns. They only give up 98 yards rushing a game. That will mean tough sledding for MSU's Herb Walker Jr., who will be looking to go over the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Morgan State has won four of their last five games)
Stillman at Central State (Stillman had been playing solid football until running into a Tuskegee buzzsaw last weekend, giving up 61 points and going nowhere offensively in a battle of teams that were undefeated in conference play. Stillman will look to get back on track against a Central State team that lost five straight before defeating Concordia (Ala) last weekend. This is the first of three straight home games to wind down a tough season for Central State)
Clark Atlanta at Albany State (Albany State's Jarvis Small has had five straight 100-yard rushing games and will look to get his sixth against a decent Clark Atlanta run defense. But Albany State, undefeated in the SIAC, is going to face a decent challenge of their own. Clark Atlanta is a running team and leads the SIAC in that category. They rarely pass. Albany State has the SIAC's best run defense and top defense overall. So this will be a battle between two of the league's top three rushers - CAU's Montavious Taylor and ASU's Small - against two good run defenses)
Morehouse at Benedict (Morehouse needs a win after a strong start. They've lost there last two convincinly, but to the hottest SIAC teams, Tuskegee and Albany State. Key for Morehouse is whether quarterback Monquavious Johnson, who has been out the last three weeks with an ankle injury, can play. He had been the SIAC's leader in passing and total offense. Benedict's Cameron Stover is now the SIAC's top passer, throwing for nearly 1600 yards and 13 touchdowns so far this season for the league's top pass offense. Both teams struggle running the ball)
Paine at Fort Valley State (Paine got their first victory last week by defeating a not-so-good Edward Waters team. But more importantly, they found their offense that had sagged over the past four weeks. But Fort Valley State is hardly Edward Waters. FVSU is in a chase of Albany State in the SIAC East as they are only one game behind. They can't afford another loss as they look towards a season-ending showdown with Albany State. Jalen White leads an FVSU rushing attack that is the second-best in the SIAC)
Kentucky State at Tuskegee (Tuskegee has been on a tear the last four weeks, scoring a whopping 189 points during that span. Quarterbacks Kevin Lacey and Justin Nared, along with running back Hoderick Lowe lead a balanced offense. The SIAC's top rusher, Jacquiese Lockett, will face a stiff defense that only allows 16 points and 291 yards of offense a game. But Tuskegee's run defense is only ranked seventh in the SIAC. The Kentucky State defense will have a tough challenge today)
Miles at Lane (Miles is looking to keep pace with Tuskegee, as they are only a game behind the Golden Tigers in the SIAC West. They take on a one-win Lane squad that has only beaten Paine and has struggled on offense and defense. Lane has the league's worst offense and second-worst defense. Miles runs the ball well, with Jonathan Clark averaging 74 rushing yards a game)
Tennessee State at Eastern Illinois (Eastern Illinois isn't the best place to go to try to break a three-game losing streak. But that's the task 4-4 TSU faces. Eastern Illinois is having a down year, as they are only 2-5 after losing record-setting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the NFL. His successor, Jalen Whitlow, has been great though. He leads the OVC in passing with 259 yards a game. TSU has struggled running the ball and haven't had the same consistency on either side of the ball that made them an NCAA FCS playoff team last season)
Cheyney at Shippensburg (Winless Cheyney is stuggling on offense. Last week against Lock Haven, they were shut out and only had 26 yards rushing and 53 yards passing. Cheyney's defense did have four interceptions and two sacks. It's homecoming day at Shippensburg, a team that is 3-4 and plays spotty defense, but scores a lot of points)
Lincoln (Mo) at Indianapolis (Lincoln got a much needed win last week in destroying Texas College. Morris Henderson had 222 yards rushing. But this is a strong Indianapolis team that is 5-1 and runs the ball really well. And its homecoming day)