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Exceeding Expectations: The Most Improved Teams In HBCU Football

There is still roughly a month left in college football, but several HBCU squads have already exceeded their win totals from 2013 (and beyond) with several games remaining in 2014.

Grambling State (5-3): Arguably the greatest dynasty in all of HBCU football, Grambling has experienced an amazing turnaround in its first season under Broderick Fobbs. This time last year, the program was in dissaray for all the world to see as the players decided to strike citing poor training conditions and disgregard from their administration. Flash forward a little over 365 days, and Grambling sits alone atop the SWAC, having reeled off five straight wins.

If Grambling State can keep up this run and win the SWAC title, Fobbs has to be considered for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the best FCS coach every season.

Texas Southern (5-2): Unlike its SWAC West neighbor, TSU hasn’t undergone a culture change, but it appears to have experienced a culture change. Now in his third season at the helm of the program, Darrell Aulsburry seems to have finally turned the corner with his team.

The Tigers have an explosive offense that has scored at least 30 points in six of its seven games after averaging just over 17 points per game in 2013. TSU is currently in third place in the SWAC West, behind Grambling and Southern, with back-to-back matchups against both schools in early Nov.

Livingstone (5-2): Like Grambling and Texas Southern, Livingstone has already won more games this season than it has in the last two combined. The combination of Quarterback Drew Powell and Jalen Hendricks has been a big reason for that. Powell is the CIAA’s leading passer (1,603 yards) and second leading rusher (597 yards and 6 TDs), though he has turned the ball over 20 times this season. Hendricks has 65 catches for 1,003 yards and 11 scores.

After a 4-0 start, Livingstone lost two straight CIAA games before rebounding for a one-point win over Shaw last week. It will need to win out the rest of the season and get some help to win the CIAA Southern Division title, but just being in the race at this point has to be exciting for Livingstone fans.

Virginia Union (6-1): For the second season in a row, a team from the Commonwealth of Virginia has turned from a doormat to a CIAA power. Last season, it was Virginia State. This year, it’s their rivals to the east, Virginia Union. VUU finished 3-7 last season, (ironically, the same record as Livingstone) but is currently tied with Winston-Salem State and Bethune-Cookman for the best record in Black College Football.

Much of the credit for the turnaround goes to new coach Mark James, as well as quarterback Kent Graham who has played efficient football for VUU.

Fort Valley State (5-2): Fort Valley State had the best record of any program on this list in 2013, winning four games and finishing second in the SIAC East. Still, it was a letdown for a traditionally strong program. FVSU’s resume includes a blowout win over DI Savannah State (I know…but still…) and its two losses have come against DII power Delta State and SIAC leader Tuskegee.

If Valley wins out the rest of the way, they may get another shot at Tuskegee in the SIAC Championship next month.

Morehouse (4-3): After two down seasons, Morehouse is finally back to being a factor in the SIAC. Though they’ve cooled down with back-to-back losses, the Morehouse men have come back in a big way in 2014.

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