It is hard to figure out where to start as Week 3 of the 2021 HBCU Football season begins.
There’s a little of everything on tap – conference tussles, intriguing out-of-conference match-ups, nationally-ranked Div. II battles, FCS vs. FBS games, streamed games galore, etc.
Let’s start in the conferences.
HBCU Football: SIAC
Benedict @ Savannah State
Perhaps the most anticipated game in the SIAC this week is in Savannah, Ga. Saturday (6 p.m.) where East Division favorite Savannah State (1-1, 0-0 SIAC E) meets undefeated Benedict (2-0, 1-0 E).
Savannah State was throttled by NCAA Div. II No. 5 Valdosta State (53-7) to open the season before putting a similar beating on Livingstone of the CIAA this past week (50-6). Benedict has built its undefeated mark against the SIAC’s newest and perhaps weakest additions, Edward Waters (44-3) and Allen (45-12).
The new Benedict
But don’t sell the BC Tigers short. BC head coach Chennis Berry is one of the most experienced and well-travelled coaches in HBCU land. He has served successful stints, primarily on the offensive side of the ball, at Southern, Howard, NC A&T, Morgan State and Morris Brown. He has also interned with several NFL teams.
Savannah State head coach Shawn Quinn posted a 7-3 mark in 2019, his first year leading the Tigers, including a 5-0 record in conference play. The latter mark pegged SSU as the team to beat in the East this season.
This should be a good one.
Valdosta State @ Albany State
There will be plenty of eyes however on Albany State (2-0, 0-0 E) playing at home Saturday (7 p.m.) as it tries its hand at slowing down NCAA Div. II No. 5 Valdosta State (2-0).
VSU, who plays in the Gulf South Conference, has so far run roughshod over contenders in both HBCU Div. II conferences. The Blazers humbled Savannah State (53-7) and then took down Virginia Union of the CIAA Saturday, 51-7. VSU, who sat out the 2020-21 season, won the NCAA Div. II national title in 2018 and lost in the second round of the playoffs in 2019.
Head coach Gabe Gardinia and the Golden Rams have already gotten wins over two Gulf South members, Shorter (28-12) and Mississippi College (24-0). It will be a real challenge for the Golden Rams to make VSU their third GSC scalp. VSU has a 6-1 edge in the series.
Miles @ Morehouse
Two-time defending SIAC champion Miles (0-2, 0-0 SIAC W) is at Morehouse (0-2, 0-0 SIAC E) Saturday (2 p.m.) with each team looking for its first victory.
Miles finally gets to play somebody on its own level after showing its mettle against two SWAC opponents. The Golden Bears lost 41-24 at Southern and 14-13 at Alabama State in overtime.
Morehouse, on the other hand, has been outscored 95-7 in losses to West Alabama (48-7) and West Georgia (47-0). Look for the Golden Bears to continue the beatdown of the Maroon Tigers.
Edward Waters @ Tuskegee
We should also find out Saturday (6 p.m.) just how bad it is for head coach Willie Slater’s Golden Tigers of Tuskegee, perennial SIAC West Division contenders. After big losses to West Alabama (33-7) and Fort Valley State (33-0), TU (0-2) hosts (1 p.m.) Edward Waters (1-1).
Lane @ Fort Valley State
Fort Valley State (1-1) and Lane (1-1) meet at 2 p.m. in Fort Valley, Ga. The game will be carried on ESPN2. Both have similar outcomes, winning in-conference and losing to a SWAC program. FVSU shut out Tuskegee (33-0) and fell Saturday at the SWAC’s Florida A&M (34-7). Lane opened with a loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff (34-16) of the SWAC and won Saturday vs. Clark Atlanta (35-26).
HBCU Football: SWAC
Alabama A&M @ Bethune-Cookman
The race for SWAC supremacy, at least in the East Division, continues Thursday (7:30 p.m.) as defending division and conference champion Alabama A&M (1-0, 0-0 E) travels to Daytona Beach, Fla. for a date with new division and conference member Bethune-Cookman (0-2, 0-0 E). The game will be carried live on ESPNU.
While much of the attention has focused on Florida A&M joining the SWAC, B-CU is not to be overlooked. In fact, the Wildcats have beaten FAMU nine straight times, the last five under current head coach Terry Sims. B-CU was close in a 38-28 loss to UTEP and lost at CentralFlorida 63-14. Alabama A&M squeaked by SC State 42-41 in its only game so far.
Also not to be overlooked is A&M quarterback Aqeel Glass’s march towards establishing himself as the premier player in HBCU football. After one game, his 426 passing yards per game leads the SWAC and is second in the FCS. Expect a close game.
The rest of the SWAC teams have out-of-conference dates against FBS or FCS opponents.
HBCU Football: The one to watch
Jackson State @ Louisiana Monroe
Topping that list is Jackson State (2-0, 1-0 E) and coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders hitting the road Saturday (7 p.m.) to test itself at Louisiana Monroe (0-1) of the FBS Sun Belt Conference. ULM’s only game was a 45-10 loss at Kentucky.
ULM head coach Terry Bowden is the son of Bobby Bowden, the former Florida State head coach who passed in August at 91. The elder Bowden was Sanders’ head coach at FSU from 1985-88. Sanders spoke at Bobby Bowden’s private funeral last month.
Though Terry Bowden says he doesn’t know Sanders very well personally – he was coaching somewhere else when Sanders was at FSU – he does know Sanders’ JSU team.
A different Jackson State
“I think the fact that Coach Sanders went there, and the appeal he’s had for the portal transfers, their team would remind me of a Group of Five (Power 5) team,” Bowden said at Tuesday’s ULM press conference. “The infusion of talent they got out of the portals was extraordinary.
“They’re a very, very talented team, maybe more talented than us,” Bowden said as he rattled off stats and players, position by position, that his team will face Saturday. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us. We are fully prepared for an outstanding team that could come in here and knock us off.”
Coach Prime is having none of this ‘money game means a loss’ in terms of what most HBCUs expect when they ‘play-up’ on the road facing an FBS program. Despite the reported $300,000 ULM is paying JSU for the visit, Coach Prime and his boys expect to win.
See this one on ESPN3!
Alcorn State @ South Alabama?
Alcorn State (1-1, 0-0 E) is at South Alabama (2-0), also a member of the Sun Belt, at 7 p.m. Saturday. USA has defeated Southern Miss (31-7) and Bowling Green (21-19). Alcorn rebounded from its opening loss to NC Central to get a key come-from-behind 13-10 win at home Saturday vs. Northwestern State.
The question mark is because there’s more than a $360,000 check to the Alcorn coffers at stake here. Alcorn head coach Fred McNair said his team is facing internal problems related to the unavailability of training and medical personnel which could put this game in jeopardy.
Really stay tuned to see if this one is played. If it is, ESPN3 is carrying it.
Florida A&M @ South Florida
Florida A&M (1-1, 0-1 E) will also be tested on the road Saturday (7 p.m.) at South Florida (0-2). USF, who competes in the FBS American Athletic Conference (AAC), is hungry for a win after losses to N. C. State (45-0) and Florida (42-20). Catch it on ESPN+.
Grambling State (1-1) is at FBS AAC member Houston (1-1) also on ESPN+ (6 p.m. CT).
Two SWAC teams will take on FCS Southland Conference members Saturday and two face FCS Atlantic Sun members. All start at 6 p.m. CT.
Prairie View A&M (1-1, 1-0 W) hosts Houston Baptist (0-2) and Southern (1-1, 0-0 W) hosts 0-2 McNeese State in Southland match ups. Mississippi Valley State (0-1, 0-0 E) is at Stephen F. Austin (1-1) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-0, 0-0 W) is at Central Arkansas (0-2) in tilts with the A-Sun.
HBCU Football: MEAC
MEAC members continue their six-game non-conference schedule Saturday.
Howard vs. Hampton
Howard (0-2) welcomes 1-1 Hampton of the Big South to Washington, D. C. The game, dubbed the “Truth and Service Classic” is at 12 noon and will be played at the 20,000-seat Audi Field, the home of MLS member D. C United. NBC Sports Network is carrying the game.
Winston-Salem State @ NC Central & Elizabeth City State @ Norfolk State
There are two MEAC vs. CIAA matches Saturday at 6 p.m. North Carolina Central (1-1) renews an old rivalry when it hosts 0-1 Winston-Salem State and Norfolk State (0-2) does the same hosting 0-2 Elizabeth City State. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.
Delaware State (1-1) is on the road (7:30 p.m.) at East Tennessee State (2-0). ETSU is 17th in the AFCA FCS poll. Morgan State (0-2) is at 1-1 Sacred Heart at 1 p.m. and South Carolina State (0-2) wanders out to New Mexico State (0-2) for a 6 p.m. MT start.
HBCU Football: CIAA
Chowan (2-0, 0-0 N) has won two overtime games to kick off its season and is hosting 0-2 Erskine Saturday (1 p.m.). CIAA favorite Bowie State (1-1) travels to Connecticut to tackle New Haven (1-0).
In other games involving CIAA teams, Shaw (0-2) hosts SIAC member Central State (1-1), Livingstone (0-2) is at Allen (1-1), Johnson C. Smith (0-1) hosts 1-1 Bluefield State and Lincoln (Pa.) is at Gardner-Webb.
Bluefield State and head coach Anthony Coaxum got their first win last week since returning to competition last season, knocking off Elizabeth City State, 35-27. Before last season, Bluefield State last fielded a football team or had a win in 1980.
Here’s the Week 3 HBCU Football Rundown
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
Bethune-Cookman vs. Alabama A&M in Daytona Beach, FL 7:30 pm ET
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
Clark Atlanta vs. Shorter in Atlanta, GA 12n ET
Hampton vs. Howard in Washington, DC 12n ET
Tuskegee vs. Edward Waters in Tuskegee, AL 1 pm CT
Chowan vs. Erskine in Murfeesboro, NC 1 pm ET
New Haven vs. Bowie State in West Haven, CT 1 pm ET
Sacred Heart vs. Morgan State in Fairfield, CT 1 pm ET
Shaw vs. Central State in Raleigh, NC 1 pm ET
Morehouse vs. Miles in Atlanta, GA 2 pm ET
Tennessee State vs. Kentucky State in Nashville, TN 2 pm CT
Wayland Baptist vs. Langston in Plainview, TX 2 pm CT
Faulkner vs. Florida Memorial in Montgomery, AL 2:30 pm CT
Allen vs. Livingstone in Columbia, SC 5 pm ET
Gardner-Webb vs. Lincoln (PA) in Boiling Springs, NC 6 pm ET
Johnson C. Smith vs. Bluefield State in Charlotte, NC 6 pm ET
Savannah State vs. Benedict in Savannah, GA 6 pm ET
Central Arkansas vs Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Conway, AR 6 pm CT
Southern vs. McNeese State in Baton Rouge, LA 6 pm CT
Stephen F. Austin vs. Miss Valley State in Nacogdoches, TX 6 pm CT
Prairie View A&M vs. Houston Baptist in Prairie View, TX 6 pm CT
New Mexico State vs. SC State in Las Cruces, NM 6 pm MT
Fort Hays State vs. Lincoln (MO) in Hays, KS 7 pm CT
Valdosta State vs. Albany State in Valdosta, GA 7 pm ET
E. Tenn. State vs Delaware State in J’nson City, TN 7:30 pm ET
Willard Bailey Classic
Virginia Union vs. Va-Lynchburg in Richmond, VA 6 pm ET
TV GAMES / WEBCASTS
Fort Valley State vs. Lane in Fort Valley, GA – ESPN+ 2 pm ET
Houston vs. Grambling State in Houston, TX – ESPN+ 6 pm CT
NC Central vs. Winston-Salem State in Durham, NC – ESPN+ 6 pm ET
Norfolk State vs. Elizabeth City State in Norfolk, VA – ESPN+ 6 pm ET
Louisiana Monroe vs. Jackson State in Monroe, LA – ESPN3 7 pm CT
South Alabama vs Alcorn State in Mobile, AL – ESPN3 7 pm CT
South Florida vs. Florida A&M in Tampa, FL – ESPN+ 7 pm ET