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Battle Of The Conferences: SIAC/CIAA Showdowns Top (D2) Week Three

Tuskegee’s defense has been a major reason for its 2-0 start. (AL.com photo)

Cleveland Classic: Tuskegee vs. Winston-Salem State

Most HBCU classic games bank on well-known schools (FAMU, Southern) or fan bases that are known to travel well. The upstart Cleveland Classic went for the top schools in HBCU Division II football in Winston-Salem State and Tuskegee.

The matchup to watch in this game will be the Tuskegee offense against the WSSU defense. Tuskegee averages just under five yards per play on offense, and is averaging just two yards per carry on the ground. It will need more than that to keep the Ram defense honest.

For WSSU, it’s all about taking care of the ball. Other than its abysmal first-half performance against UNC-Pembroke, WSSU has shown it can move the ball, provided it doesn’t give it away. Against an opportunistic defense like Tuskegee, that will be key.

Prediction: WSSU

Shaw’s Darnell Evans is now the school’s career leader in interceptions. (Shaw photo)



Cape Fear Classic: Shaw vs. UNC-Pembroke

Two weeks into the season, Shaw has looked as impressive as any D2 HBCU this year. Shaw got it done on the road last week, coming back from a 14 point first-half deficit to leave Richmond with a 33-21 win. It will face a UNC-Pembroke team that is 2-0 against CIAA competition to open the season and is nationally ranked.

Despite UNC-Pembroke having beat Winston-Salem State earlier in the year, something no CIAA team has done since Shaw did it back in 2010, Shaw seems to have a pretty good shot at upsetting UNCP. The Braves had months to prepare for the Rams. They also had a chip on a shoulder from losing three in a row to the Rams, which won’t be there when they face the Bears. Remember that Pembroke trailed early in last week’s game against Fayetteville State before rallying in the second half.

Prediction: Shaw in an upset

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Kentucky State is averaging 40 points per game through two contests. (Kentucky State photo)

Kentucky State at Virginia State

The first two games of the Latrell Scott-era have been a roller coaster ride for Virginia State. After trailing by 20 in the season opener against Fayetteville State, VSU ended the game on a 21-0 run to win on a field goal. Last week, VSU came out strong against Benedict, only to go scoreless in the second half .

Conversely, Kentucky State has charged out of the gate (forgive the cheesy play-on-words) impressively. KSU enters week three averaging 40 points per game with back-to-back wins over Kentucky Wesleyan and Central State.

I don’t think either of those teams are as good as Virginia State will be by the end of the season. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were a contender for the CIAA North title. But until they show some consistency, I can’t pick them in good conscious.

Prediction: Kentucky State

St. Aug will look to avoid an 0-3 start in Saturday’s home-opener against Stillman. (Richard Jowers photo)

Stillman at St. Aug

Stillman and St. Aug’s records may suggest that this game won’t be close, but don’t let that fool you. Stillman (2-0) comes in averaging nearly 40 points per-game, but its wins came against NAIA Concordia-Selma and SIAC cellar-dweller Clark-Atlanta. St. Aug comes in (0-2), but played good enough to beat D1 NC Central before falling in double overtime.

I have a feeling this could turn into a shootout. It’ll probably come down to which defense can force a turnover or two.

Fayetteville State will try to win its first game on the road against Virginia Union. (Fayetteville Observer photo)

Fayetteville State @ Virginia Union

Both teams enter Saturday’s contest looking for their first win of the season. Both teams let first-half leads slip away last week. This game is anybody’s guess.

Prediction: Virginia Union…cuz…home…

Prediction: Stillman

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