|Bethune-Cookman will try to pick up a win over FBS opponent Florida International on Saturday. (Marco News photo)|
Outside of Johnny Football and the regular scandals, one of the big storylines the first month of the college football season has been the success of FCS teams versus FBS teams. Eleven schools from Division I’s lower level have upset the big boys in the season’s first two weeks, and several will attempt to do it again.
One group that has been conspicuously absent from that trend is HBCUs. There have been a few close games, Howard led Eastern Michigan by double digits in the first half, and Morgan State played Army tough, but teams like Savannah State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff have been pummeled by FBS opponents in classic “money game” fashion.
This week, however, defending MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman has perhaps the conference’s best shot at pulling off an upset over a team from college football’s top division. BCU will travel head south to Miami to take on Florida International, a member of the FBS’s Conference USA. BCU actually enters the game as a three point favorite over FIU. When was the last time an FCS HBCU could say that?
BCU enters the game 2-0, with wins against FCS foe Tennessee State and D2 Virginia Union. And though FIU (0-2) is one of the weaker FBS teams in the country, it would still be a major victory for the Wildcats.
Prediction: Bethune-Cookman by 7
|Lewis Kindle may see his first action of the year against Elon on Saturday. (Chris Martin photo)|
Elon @ NC A&T
NC A&T came into the season looking to build on a 2012 in which it achieved its first winning record since 2003. The Aggies were predicted to finish third in the MEAC at the media day, but we thought that was too low. Still, A&T took everyone by surprise on opening week when it upset perennial power Appalachian State in Boone last week. It was the program’s first win over a ranked team since 2003 and against a PWI since 2004.
This week, A&T will look to build on that win by beating Elon in its home opener. The Aggies only got one touchdown from their offense last week, but its stiffing defense and excellent special teams production were enough to get it hold on for the win. Something to watch will be the quarterback position, however, as coach Rod Broadway said both Lewis Kindle and Kwashaun Quick may play against the Phoenix.
Expect a tough battle, as these two teams are separated by less than 20 miles and a little bit of history with each other. Elon doesn’t appear to be nearly as strong an opponent as App State was, and A&T will be playing at home so they’ll be expected to win. If they don’t, than any momentum gained from last week’s win would definitely be stifled.
Prediction: A&T by 10
|Julien David and Howard face a tough task against Old Dominion on Saturday. (Washington Post photo)|
Howard at Old Dominion
After two weeks of playing competition at different levels in the NCAA hierchy, Howard will finally get the chance to face off against an FCS team. The Pirates surprised everyone by jumping out to a big lead at Eastern Michigan before faltering late. Last week, the handled Morehouse in the Nation’s Classic as they were supposed to.
The Bison will face arguably the best team its seen all season up to this point in ODU, a team coming off two straight FCS playoff appearances. The Monarchs are ineligible for postseason play this year as it begins transition to the FBS.
Howard will enter the game as underdogs. But the last time they came to Norfolk as underdogs, they upset the defending MEAC Champion Norfolk State Spartans. Could there be another upset brewing for the Bison?
Prediction: ODU by 14
Other games: Predicted winners in bold
Alabama A&M @ SC State
NC Central @ UNC-Charlotte
Samford @ FAMU
Alabama A&M @ SC State
Tennessee Tech @Hampton
Morgan State @ Liberty
Fort Valley State @ Savannah State
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The second annual Deacon Jones Trophy will be awarded in Feb. 2018.