By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Forget about what happened last week for Grambling and Bethune Cookman. For all intents and purposes, their seasons begin here with this big SWAC-MEAC contest.
Both teams were easily defeated by FBS teams (Grambling was trounced by Cal 73-14 while Bethune-Cookman was no match for Miami (Fla) in their 45-0 loss) last week. But this is different.
Grambling is coming off a season in which they came out of nowhere to be one of the bigger stories in HBCU football, narrowly missing a SWAC Championship game berth after a bitter loss to rival Southern. This year, most of their important cogs on offense return in quarterback Jonathan Williams and his top three receivers in Chester Rogers, Chad Williams and Verlon Hunter. Defense is a question as four of their five top tacklers have graduated from the program.
Head Coach Terry Sims takes over a Bethune-Cookman team that was 9-3 last year, but fell just short of the MEAC championship game and FCS playoffs after a late season loss to Virginia State. Quarterback Quentin Williams is back after throwing for more than 1400 yards and seven touchdowns along with rushing for nearly 300 yards and another four TDs.
But on defense, the Wildcats have some of the same questions as Grambling does as Bethune-Cookman lost their top seven tacklers.
Don't let that fool you, said Grambling head coach Broderick Fobbs.
"They're a really, really good program," Fobbs told The News Star. "They've been a great program for a number of years with a lot of quality football players. Very, very strong in the skill department and also good in the trenches."
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. local time.
Here is today's HBCU football schedule:
Bacone at Texas Southern - Texas Southern will have a much easier time this week than they did in last week's lopsided loss to Prairie View A&M. Bacone, picked as the third best team in the NAIA's Central State's Football League, lost to Lamar 66-3 last week and to Texas Southern 63-0 last year.
Tennessee State vs. Jackson State (Southern Heritage Classic, Memphis, Tenn) - In this annual tilt between the rival Tigers, TSU needed three late TDs to win last week, but had a balanced offense throughout. Jackson State was on the bad end of a 70-14 shellacking at Middle Tennessee State last week, but
Prairie View A&M at Texas State -
Alcorn State at Alabama State -
Johnson C. Smith at Kentucky State
Central State at Clark Atlanta
Concordia College-Selma at Stillman
Morehouse at Arkansas-Pine Bluff - First ever meeting between these two schools. Morehouse, a Division II school, was led by Isaiah Hicks' 130 yards and three TDs in routing Edward Waters last week. UAPB only completed six passes and had less than 200 yards offense in losing 35-7 to a much stronger South Carolina State team.
Lane at Fort Valley State
Miles at West Georgia
Albany State at Tuskegee - It's an early season rematch of last year's SIAC championship game and a potential 2015 title game matchup as both teams are strong again this season. Tuksegee easily handled CAU last week while Albany State fell short of what would have been a huge win last week against Valdosta State.
North Carolina A&T at North Carolina
Richmond at Hampton
Howard at Boston College - Another FBS school looms for Howard, who was scoreless in a lopsided loss to Appalachian State. Boston College, who defeated another FCS school, Maine, 24-3 last week, is looking for another tune-up win as they get ready for Florida State next week.
Florida A&M at Samford
Coastal Carolina at South Carolina State
North Carolina Central at Duke
Delaware State at Kent State
Old Dominion at Norfolk State
Morgan State at Illinois State
Virginia State at Tusculum
Livingstone at Virginia-Lynchburg
Lincoln (Pa) at N.C. Wesleyan
Bowie State at Brevard
Virginia Union at St. Augustine's
Elizabeth City State at Benedict
Chowan at Campbell
UNC Pembroke at Fayetteville State
Valdosta State vs. Winston Salem State (in Powder Springs, Ga) - If Winston Salem State expects to get back to their winning ways after losing to UNC-Pembroke last week, then they chose a difficult week to do so. Valdosta State is one of the best Division II teams in the nation, but they barely knocked off Albany State last week.
Wingate at Shaw
Langston at Bethany
St. Francis at Lincoln (Mo.) -
Urbana (Oh.) at West Virginia State - WVSU's offense had a big day in their 59-34 win last week as freshman Tyrone Barber rushed for three touchdown runs. Urbana lost last week to Glenville State 49-0.