Saturday, November 8, 2014

North Carolina A&T and Morgan State Battle for a Share of MEAC Top Spot; Games Determining Title Matchups in CIAA and SIAC; Look at ALL HBCU Action Today


Bethune-Cookman's fourth quarter rally to defeat Norfolk State Thursday gave some breathing room in the tight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference race.

But that's only until today.

Bethune-Cookman now has a 5-1 MEAC record to sit alone in first place, breaking a five-way tie that existed until Thursday.  Now there is a three-way tie for second place between North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State and Morgan State, all with 4-1 records.

After today, Bethune-Cookman will have some company in the top spot as North Carolina A&T hosts Morgan State.  Morgan has won three of their last four games, with their only loss in that span to Villanova, the fifth ranked team in FCS football.

North Carolina A&T may be the top ranked team in several HBCU Top Ten polls, including ADDS HBCU SPORTS REPORT, but they've lost to Morgan State each of the past two years.

“We’ve had our issues with Morgan State the last two years," said Aggies head coach Rod Broadway. "They matchup pretty good against us and coach (Lee) Hull is doing a good job up there. But it’s a game we’re looking forward to. We have an opportunity to go out and play well this week. It’s going to take that because I’m impressed with those guys and how they do things. But I’m also impressed with our football team and the growth we’ve shown, so it should be a fun matchup.”

Morgan State is a team that relies upon the run as they average a MEAC-best 219 yards a game. They are led by Herb Walker Jr., the top rusher in the conference, averaging 131 yards a game. Quarterback Robert Council has thrown for seven touchdowns, but he also has run for six touchdowns and is fifth in the MEAC with 72 yards rushing per game.

The Aggies lead the MEAC in interceptions, pass defense efficiency and they are third in rushing defense. Tarik Cohen also leads the MEAC's third best offense by rushing for 120 yards a game, second behind Walker.

“It’s not going to be easy. Defensively they are excellent. They are one of the top defenses in the league and offensively they have a great running back," Hull said. "You can’t stop him, but you have to contain him as much as you can. They have their quarterback back which also makes their offense very difficult to stop. They also have a versatile receiving corps. All their guys can do some different things to get open. It’s going to be a hard-fought game. We have a work cut out for us. We’re going to go down there and see what happens.”

Today's game kick-offs at 1 p.m. eastern.

Here is a look at all of the rest of today's HBCU football action: 
South Carolina State at Florida A&M (It's an interesting time at Florida A&M these days. The anger over the firing of head coach and FAMU legend Earl Holmes during homecoming week still sits like a cloud over the program. South Carolina State comes to town needing a win to keep pace in the MEAC race as they are part of the three-way tie for second and needing a win to be part of a first-place tie. Florida A&M has actually played competitive football the past few weeks, coming within a yard of a win last week against a good Norfolk State team)
Hampton at North Carolina Central

Howard at Savannah State


Virginia State at Virginia Union (This is a big game. These are not only two of the best Division II teams in the country, but they are the two top teams in the CIAA Northern Division. A win for either team puts them into next week's CIAA Championship game against either Winston-Salem State or Fayetteville State. Both are high scoring offenses, with Virginia Union leading the CIAA in passing and Virginia State third in rushing with a CIAA-best 24 rushing TDs. So how do the defenses match up? They are ranked second and third in the CIAA)

Elizabeth City State at Bowie State

Lincoln (Pa) at Chowan

Shaw at St. Augustine's

Winston-Salem State at Fayetteville State (Fayetteville State couldn't have a better set up for this big game. The winner would get the CIAA Southern Division berth in the conference championship game next week and the Broncos will have a home crowd behind them. The Broncos have won five straight games and are one of the better scoring teams in the CIAA. But they are facing a steady and tough Winston-Salem State squad that hasn't been tested in weeks and has one of the nation's most potent offenses and stingiest defenses)

Livingstone at Johnson C. Smith


Texas Southern at Southern (Southern has been rolling along, but they are in the same SWAC West that has the hottest team in HBCU football, Grambling, a team that is 7-0 in conference play and a game ahead of Southern in the division. So Southern needs a win. But so does Texas Southern, whose four game winning streak to start the season is a distant memory.  The Tigers have lost four of their last five games)

Jackson State at Alabama State

Alcorn State at Alabama A&M (Alcorn State is rolling so far this season, but they'd better not sleep on Alabama A&M.  The Bulldogs are 4-5, but they are 3-0 in the SWAC East.  A loss to the Bulldogs would seriously damage Alcorn State's SWAC championship appearance hopes. But Alcorn has only lost once since early September and that loss was to streaking Grambling)

Prairie View A&M at Arkansas-Pine Bluff


Tuskegee at Miles (This game is for the SIAC West berth in the SIAC Championship game next week. Miles is looking for a return trip after losing to Albany State in the title game last year. Tuskegee is on a roll, winning their last six games and scoring at least 28 points per game. But last week they were in a tussle with Central State, winning only 28-25. Miles ended a three game losing streak by now winning five straight, though in much closer games)

Lane at Central State

Kentucky State at Morehouse (Morehouse is looking to end the season at 6-4, a huge turnaround from last season's two-win season. The Maroon Tigers looked strong against Fort Valley State as quarterback Monquavious Johnson was at full strength for the first time in several weeks.  Kentucky State has only won one of their last four in this three win season. But they do have a star runner in Jacquise Lockett, who is averaging 111 yards rushing a game.  Kentucky State also dominated Lane last week, 47-14)

Clark Atlanta at Stillman

Bendict at Paine

Fort Valley State at Albany State (A week ago, Morehouse took the steam out of this game when they upset Fort Valley State. Coupled with Albany State's win, it knocked FVSU out of a chance for an SIAC title berth, which now goes to Albany State. Both are still hoping for an NCAA Division II playoff berth and a win over surging Albany State would look good for Fort Valley State)

Tennessee State at Austin Peay (This has been a disappointing second-half of the season for the Big Blue Tigers. Despite having one of the nation's best defenses, TSU has lost five straight games.  The lack of a running game has been a big problem.  Austin Peay, a neighboring rival, has only won once this season and have lost their last two games by a combined score of 93-7)

Southwest Assemblies of God at Langston

McKendree at Lincoln (Mo)

Millersville at Cheyney (Cheyney, in their final home game of the season, is 0-9 and looking for their first win. But so is 0-9 Millersville. But Cheyney will need to pick up their offense though. Cheyney has only scored 13 points in the last three games, two of those contests being shutouts)

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