|Photo by Andrew Dye/Winston-Salem Journal|
Just two years ago, this game was for all of the Division II marbles. The way things are going already this season, it could also be a preview of this year's title game.
Division II titans 12th-ranked Winston-Salem State and 23rd-ranked Valdosta State hook up today in the Cobb County Clash, being played just outside of Atlanta.
Both teams are coming off of big wins last week. Valdosta State eased past Albany State 38-10 while Winston-Salem State avenged a 2013 season opening loss to UNC-Pembroke by getting an easy 38-7 win.
What's fresh in the minds of the Rams is their 38-7 2012 loss to the Blazers in the Division II championship game.
"We remember that game and it was a bad feeling afterward," Winston-Salem State senior defensive lineman Duvontae Covington told the Winston-Salem Journal.
"Eventually we moved on, and its yesterday's trash, so we have to look ahead," linebacker Demonte Hill told the Journal. "We just have to move forward and if we want a different result, we have to take care of business on Saturday."
To do so, the Rams will have to deal with a defense that forced five turnovers and held Albany State to only 206 yards of total offense. Albany State could only muster 39 yards rushing.
Winston-Salem State counters with a balanced offense, featuring quarterbacks Rudy Johnson and Phil Sims. The two had 116 and 114 yards passing last week while the Rams running game churned out 154 yards. The Rams defense itself forced three turnovers and shutdown the UNC-Pembroke offense by allowing only 146 yards of total offense and 11 first downs (two of those due to WSSU penalties).
"We see how good they are; we know they they're going to have that revenge factor, and we know it's going to be a great atmosphere up there," said Valdosta State head coach David Dean. "They're going to be juiced and hopefully, we're going to be juiced."
Kickoff is at 4 p.m. EST.
- Albany State at Tuskegee (
- Lane at Clark Atlanta (Last week, Clark Atlanta rushed for 262 yards, primarily from preseason All-SIAC running back Montavious Taylor (119 yards). But they could only muster 83 yards passing in losing to Central State 28-12. Lane's offense was non-existent in their 39-7 loss to Benedict last week. They only had 17 yards rushing to go with 137 passing yards.)
- Kentucky State at Johnson C. Smith (
- Howard vs. Morehouse (This will be the final time these two teams battle in the AT&T Nation's Football Classic in Washington, D.C. Howard has won the previous three meetings, but only dominated in one of those games. The Morehouse offense features newcomer RB-KR Cameron Fields and senior RB Shelton Hamilton, while their defense is young. Howard has the MEAC's reigning Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Greg McGhee and looks to get their first win this season.)
- Livingstone at Paine (
- Texas Southern vs. Central State (Central State is coming off a solid win over Clark Atlanta, but faces a much tougher opponent in FCS squad Texas Southern. TSU is 2-0 after outlasting Prairie View and putting up 529 yards of total offense in an easy win over over-matched Texas College. This game is the HBCUX Bahamas Classic, the first HBCU game played in the Bahamas.)
- Fort Valley State at Savannah State (Savannah State is looking for a much easier day after they were embarrassed by Georgia Southern 83-9 last week and Middle Tennessee State two weeks ago 61-7. Fort Valley State didn't fare much better last week, getting blown out by Delta State 56-13.)
- West Georgia at Miles (
- Jackson State vs. Tennessee State (
- Prairie View at McNeese State (
- Alabama A&M at UAB (
- Louisiana College at Alcorn State (
- Grambling at Bethune Cookman (
- Mississippi Valley State at Alabama State (
- Northwestern State at Southern (
- Chowan at Alderson Broaddus (Chowan is coming off a good win over Fayetteville State last week as DeSean Martin had 130 yards rushing and four receptions. But they will have to stop Brandon Jones, who had a school-record 316 yards rushing in Alderson Broaddus' 57-37 win over Pace (NY). Chowan did hand the Battlers one of their only two losses last season, a wild 60-37 win.)
- N.C. Wesleyan at Lincoln (Pa.) (Lincoln started out the season again with a win over Cheyney. Last season, it was their only win. But this is a better and more experienced team than that one. The Battling Bishops were dominated in a 40-19 loss to Stevenson last week. They gave up nearly 500 yards in offense to Stevenson.)
- Charleston (W.V.) at Virginia Union (Virginia Union shut out Siena Heights 12-0 last week. The Panthers were balanced with a strong passing game, solid running game and stiff defense for new coach Mark James. A lot depends on which Charleston team shows up. Last week they were down 21-7 and looked listless. By the end of the game, they scored 35 unanswered points to defeat Virginia Wesleyan.)
- Bowie State at Morgan State (Morgan State may be 0-2, but they may be the best 0-2 team in HBCU football. They played strong games against Eastern Michigan and Holy Cross, games they easily could have won. Bowie State features a big passing game with quarterback Matthew Goggans and wide receiver Nyme Manns. They combined for 312 yards in a close 23-22 loss to Saint Anselm last week. Defense is their problem as they gave up nearly 400 yards to Saint Anselm.)
- Wingate at St. Augustine's (
- Lenoir-Rhyne at Virginia State (
- Tusculum at Elizabeth City State (
- Fayetteville State at UNC Pembroke (Both of these teams are coming off of losses last week, though different types. The Broncos lost a close one to Chowan while UNC Pembroke was blown out by Winston-Salem State. UNC Pembroke defeated the Broncos with a comeback win last season.)
- Shaw at West Alabama (Shaw's offense was anemic in their 30-6 loss to Miles last week. They average a little over a yard rushing and only had 168 yards passing. That will need to change quick because 25th-ranked West Alabama put up 44 on Stillman last week in a win.)
- Towson at Delaware State (
- Charlotte at North Carolina Central (
- South Carolina State at Coastal Carolina (Coastal Carolina, the nation's fifth-ranked FCS team, had a tough time with North Carolina A&T last week, winning 31-30. South Carolina State had an even rougher day at Clemson, where they lost 73-7. This should be a good tilt as the SCSU defense, one of the nation's best last year, should matchup better with their FCS colleague.)
- Elon at North Carolina A&T (
- Hampton at Richmond (
- Norfolk State at William & Mary (
- Langston at Truman State (Langston, the NAIA's 23rd ranked football team, gathered themselves after being down three touchdowns and giving up 42 points in the first half against Lincoln (Mo.) to win 49-48. Division II Truman lost in overtime 13-7 to Drake last week and boasts a strong defense. They've held five of their last eight opponents to two touchdowns or less.)
- Lincoln (Mo.) at Southwest Baptist (Last week, Lincoln scored 42 first half points against Langston. But they gave up 49 points to lose 49-48. SBU blew a late six point lead to lose on a 90-yard kickoff return by William Jewell College. Both teams will be looking to hold a lead this week.)
- Gannon at Cheyney (Brock Jones had 150 yards rushing in his first start for Gannon, which won easily 23-7 last week. Cheyney is hoping to win their first game in two years after a winless 2013 and a season opening 30-18 loss to Lincoln (Pa) last week)