|Darnell Evans has picked off eight passes in eight games this season. (Fayetteville Observer photo)|
Shaw at Winston-Salem State
This game potentially has big CIAA South implications. Winston-Salem State enters this game ranked 13th in the nation, thanks to a seven-game winning streak. They face a Shaw squad that has had a rollercoaster season, but has a three-game winning streak of its own. Shaw also owns the distinction of being the last CIAA team to beat WSSU, something that hasn’t been done in over three years.
Strength on Strength
Winston-Salem State enters this matchup as the top passing offense in the CIAA, averaging nearly 400 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Rudy Johnson has been very good during in his seven-game tenure as WSSU’s starting quarterback, throwing 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions during that stretch. He faces perhaps his stiffest challenge so far on Saturday against Shaw’s ball-hawking secondary. The Bears rank second in Division II with 18 interceptions as a team, with cornerbacks Darnell Evans and Chris Ellerbe combining for 15. Shaw will need to force a few turnovers to help its offense out against a tough WSSU defense.
Over the past three games, Winston-Salem State has developed a habit of slow starts. The Rams have scored just one touchdown in the first half of its last two games. If Shaw is to steal this game, it will have to hope that pattern repeats itself and take advantage if that happens. Even so, WSSU can score in bunches and its defense is clicking on all cylinders. An upset isn’t impossible, but don’t bet the rent money on it.
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