The opening week of college football is here, and in the MEAC that generally means money games. With a few exceptions, MEAC teams are either traveling to an FBS school to come up on a check or they are paying a D2 squad to come in and help them tune up.
Either way, we’re glad football is back. This week we’ve got two guest bloggers, Henry Funny (aka Kid Heartless) and Chris Stevens (aka CJ Starchild), who have been so kind as to bless us with their MEAC picks. Feel free to harass/converse with them about MEAC football in particular and HBCU football in general all season.
1. Delaware State at Delaware
Kid Heartless: It was a rough, very rough season for the Hornets. Finishing the season 1-10, many expect this season to have a similar theme. This year doesn’t look to start off on a real positive note as the Hornets face their in-state FCS foe Delaware Thursday night. I’m really not even sure the Blue Hens will get much from watching any film from 2015, but as they say, “This is why they play the game”.
My Pick: Delaware
CJ Starchild: Rough start for the Hornets as they have yet to beat their in-state rivals in their previous six meetings. Both teams are young, but UD has more talent as has always been the case.
My Pick: UD 24, DSU 10
2. Holy Cross at Morgan State
Heartless: Now here’s where the tough part comes in. It’s not a bodybag money game. It’s not a very strong FCS team in Holy Cross coming into town. These two teams come in both at a very “middle of the pack” in their respective conferences. The last, and only, time these two teams met, Herb Walker Jr exploded for 271 yards and two TDs but Holy Cross got the win on the final play of the game. What could happen as Walker makes his return to the Morgan St backfield? I think he returns in scorching fashion.
My Pick: Morgan State
Starchild: The Bears had a rough 2015 after earning their first playoff appearance (and 1/5th of the MEAC title) in 2014. Getting back to basics against an average Holy Cross team would be a good start.
My Pick: Morgan State 28, Holy Cross 20
3. North Carolina Central at Duke
Heartless: The good ole Bullcity Gridiron Classic. While North Carolina Central is expected to challenge for yet another MEAC crown, it won’t be enough to put a scare into the Blue Devils.
My Pick: Duke
Starchild: The battle of Durham is going to be a true test for the Eagles, who missed a Celebration Bowl berth by a tiebreaker last year. If they can hang with Duke or (gasp) win, A&T better watch out.
My Pick: Duke 34, NCCU 21
4. Savannah State at Georgia Southern
Heartless: Alright, alright, alright Tigers. New season, new coach, new beginnings right? Maybe not right away, but if new head coach Erik Raeburn can get a grasp of coaching and recruiting at the Division 1 level, things could take off in a year or two. That is, if the administration gives him that much time. But for now, challenging an FBS picked at the top of the Sun Belt Conference, is not going to be pretty.
My Pick: GA Southern
Starchild: Savannah State faces one of the gold standards of mid-major college football and they’ll need to have their eyes open for that surprise running attack the Eagles are known for.
My Pick: Ga. Southern 38, Savannah State 14
5. Hampton at Old Dominion
Heartless: The Pirates will start out the season taking on an ODU team that returns a whopping 17 starters. Hampton head coach Connell Maynor will have his guys looking to make some real progress on making a push for a MEAC title. They have the best receiver in the conference in Twarn Mixon and will look to get him the ball early and often. Watch out for them this year. Just not this game.
My Pick: ODU
Starchild: Wild to think how Hampton and Norfolk have watched ODU pass them in a decade of football and the Pirates, who could contend for a MEAC title, are gonna see up close how good ODU is.
My pick: ODU 31, Hampton 10.
6. South Carolina State at Central Florida
Heartless: I need to have a chat with whoever is in charge of scheduling down there in Orangeburg. Not one, not two, but three FBS games to open the season. The Bulldog faithful won’t see their team hit the field in OC Dawson Stadium until October when Bethune-Cookman comes to town. Needless to say, the Bulldogs will need their guys to be healthy for that critical game. Good luck.
My Pick: UCF
Starchild: The Bulldogs are arguably the MEAC’s most consistent program over the last 25 years and they usually do well out of conference because of their versatile offense and solid defense. This could be a prime opportunity for SCSU, facing a Knights team that went 0-for-2015.
My Pick: SC State 21, UCF 14
7. St. Aug at North Carolina A&T
Heartless: In somewhat of a head-scratching move, A&T cancelled or delayed their final game with Elon & picked up a second FBS game to go along with their season opener with D2 St. Augustine’s University. I call it a head scratcher because without that FCS win under your belt, you’re at a mean disadvantage in case of the likely tie-breaker. We’ll see how this year shakes out.
My Pick: A&T
Starchild: In the rare guarantee game within HBCUs, the defending Celebration Bowl champs will tune up for more important games against a rebuilding Falcons program.
My Pick: A&T 42, St. Augustine 6.
8. FAMU at Miami
Heartless: I fully expect the Rattlers to have a better season than the 1-10 disappointment that was on display last year. I’ll just look for said better season later on this year.
My Pick: Miami
Starchild: 1979, we need you. FAMU, then defending I-AA champs, beat Miami in the Orange Bowl 16-13, and the U realized they needed butt kickers. Don’t expect that to change on Saturday.
My Pick: Miami 44, FAMU 7
9. Howard at Maryland
Heartless: New coach DJ Durkin looks to start his new job at Maryland with a bang. Send in the Bison, right on schedule. Nothing gets morale flowing quite like an FCS beat down game right? Right? At least HU won’t have to go far to pick up its check.
My Pick: Maryand
Starchild: The Bison will have a tough go of it against a Maryland team looking to get back to Bowl form, even though Howard will get better as the season goes on. At least they’ll look better in their new Under Armour jerseys.
My pick: UMD 35, Howard 7
10. Elizabeth City State at Norfolk State
Heartless: Yes! The Labor Day Classic is back where it’s supposed to be. No! The opponent is not Virginia State. But yes! The older….errrr I mean, seasoned alumni will remember ECSU very well. Remember NSU is only 20 years removed from being in the CIAA and a mean rivalry with the Vikings. I still expect the Spartans to come out dropping bombs in what I think will be a very dark horse season in the MEAC.
My Pick: Norfolk State
Starchild: The Spartans and Vikings will face off for the first time in 20 years in the Labor Day Classic. Both programs are middle of the road in their respective conferences, but by virtue of being Division 1, Norfolk State needs this win way more.
My Pick: Norfolk State 28, ECSU 14.
11. Game of The Week: Alcorn State at Bethune-Cookman
Heartless: This was what the MEAC/SWAC Challenge was supposed to be in its beginning years. Champion vs Champion. Or at least some high ranked teams going head to head. This will be an excellent test for both squads. Alcorn State is looking to move full steam ahead after losing head coach Jay Hopson to Southern Miss. New coach Fred McNair is hoping to duplicate success and have his club return to Atlanta. BCU has been a marquee team in the MEAC for quite some time and has managed to knock off SWAC West Champ, Grambling in 2015. But this game will be an early test that will be very interesting to watch.
My Pick: Bethune-Cookman
Starchild: FINALLY, we get a MEAC/SWAC challenge worth talking about! The ever-present Wildcats take on the defending SWAC champions in a possible Celebration Bowl preview and while the Braves have the slight advantage, it’d be wise for them to look out for BCU, who always will have speed at their disposal.
My Pick: Alcorn State 38, Bethune Cookman 34