There were big, decisive wins in several conferences last week but the races are far from over as the 2021 HBCU Football season enters Week 7. Stretch runs begin this week.
Jackson State in the SWAC East, Bowie State in the CIAA North and Fayetteville State in the CIAA South cleared major hurdles in their respective divisions.
JSU dominated 2021 SWAC spring champion Alabama A&M 61-15 in their East Division showdown. Bowie State shut down and knocked Chowan from the unbeaten ranks on the road in the big CIAA North Division face-off, 14-3. Fayetteville survived at Shaw in a battle of CIAA South leaders, 15-12.
North Carolina A&T escaped a scare from North Alabama before prevailing 38-34 to move to 2-0 in the Big South.
HBCU FOOTBALL: BIG SOUTH
The highlighted game this week has NC A&T (3-2, 2-0) traveling South to meet nationally-ranked Kennesaw State (4-1, 1-0). NC A&T and KSU are two of the four teams along with Monmouth (2-0) and Campbell (2-0) undefeated in Big South play.
The game is Saturday at 5 p.m. and will be carried on ESPN+.
KSU, under eighth-year head coach Brian Bohannon, is ranked 13th in the latest AFCA FCS Coaches Poll. Bohannon has led the Owls since the program started football in 2013. They were the preseason No. 2 pick in the Big South behind two-time defending champion Monmouth. NC A&T was picked third.
Bohannon’s team runs a triple-option offense that leads the Big South and is second in the FCS averaging 288 rushing yards per game. The Owls average only six passes per game.
Last week in a 34-15 win over Hampton, KSU had 58 carries between ten different runners in piling up 339 rushing yards. The Owls threw the ball 11 times completing eight. Quarterback Xavier Shepherd ran for 179 yards on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead the effort.
For the season, Shepherd has rushed for 438 yards and nine TDs. He has also completed 60% (27 of 45) of his passes for 399 yards and three scores. When he does take to the air, he has spread the ball around to five primary targets.
Strength vs. Strength
Third-year head coach Sam Washington’s NC A&T team prides itself on stopping the run. The Aggies currently have the Big South’s best rushing defense surrendering just 90.0 yards per game. Under Washington as defensive coordinator for seven years and in his three years as head coach, the Aggies have perennially been among the nation’s leaders in run and pass defense.
“With all triples (option offenses), you have to stop the dive and the quarterback first,” said Washington. “Those are the two that make everything go. If you find a way to stop the two of those and force them to pitch, it gives you a better chance to defend.
“It’s going to be very important that we defend the cut block, too. They’re very good at it, both inside and on the perimeter. So we’re going to have do a very good job of getting to our spots, using our hands and staying on our feet.”
Linebacker Jacob Roberts (32 tackles), safety Najee Reams (28) and linebackers Ritchie Kittles and Joseph Stuckey (25 each) are the Aggies top tacklers. Jermain McDaniel is the sacks leader with four.
Also in the Big South Saturday, Hampton (2-3, 0-1) is at (5 p.m. on ESPN+) Charleston Southern (1-3, 0-2).
HBCU FOOTBALL: SWAC
Jackson State and head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders can’t be far from the headlines, however. That’s especially not after the Tigers took apart 2021 spring champion Alabama A&M at its homecoming in Huntsville (Al.) Saturday, 61-15.
The next SWAC East hurdle for JSU is Alabama State (3-2, 2-1 E). The Tigers (4-1, 2-0 E) entertain the Hornets for homecoming Saturday (2 p.m. ET on ESPN+).
The revenge tour has begun
There was a little matter of a ‘shoe reference in the spring by ASU head coach Dr. Donald Hill-Eley after his Hornets handed JSU its first loss under Sanders, 35-28 in Montgomery.
There was also what some would call ‘trolling’ of JSU and its coach after the loss. Sanders’ picture was put on the big screen at ASU’s stadium following the game. It wasn’t a move that sat well with Sanders who voiced his displeasure with it in postgame comments.
Who let the dogs out?
Remember, Sanders told SWAC coaches in the spring to get their licks on the Tigers then because he had “some dogs” coming in this fall. Well, the dogs are out now. JSU had ten sacks against AA&M Saturday.
The A&M beatdown came after a seemingly harmless reference to a ‘scooter’ from A&M head coach Connell Maynor last week. Don’t be surprised if JSU is similarly fired up for this match up.
“When you disrespect The Man, the greatest ever, that’s what’s gone happen,” said Deion’s son, freshman quarterback Shedeur Sanders, after the Alabama A&M game. Shedeur threw for 249 yards and four TDs and ran for another TD in Saturday’s game.
Alabama A&M (3-2, 1-2 E) will be trying to avoid its third loss in a row when it hosts (1 p.m. on ESPN+) a critical match-up with Florida A&M (3-2, 1-1 E) Saturday.
Danger out West
After a week off, SWAC West Division leader Prairie View A&M (4-1, 3-0 W) is back in action (12 noon) at a winless but still dangerous Bethune-Cookman (0-6, 0-3 E) team Saturday.
Alcorn State (3-2, 2-0 W) lurking a half-game behind Prairie View in the West, is at Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils (2-3, 1-1 E) have won two straight. Texas Southern (1-3, 1-1 W), fresh off a 35-31 win over Southern – the first win for TSU over SU since 2011 – is at Grambling State’s homecoming (2 p.m.). The G-Men are at 2-4, overall, 1-2 in the West.
Arkansas–Pine Bluff (1-4, 0-3 W), who won the West Division in the spring, looks for its first SWAC win hositing Southern (2-3, 1-1 W) for homecoming (3 p.m. on ESPN+).
HBCU FOOTBALL: CIAA
The CIAA continues intra-divisional play as it will for the rest of the season.
In the North, division leader Bowie State (5-1, 3-0 CIAA N) is at home Saturday (1:30 p.m.) to face its next challenger, Virginia State (2-3, 2-1 N). VSU showed it was not ready to let Elizabeth City State into division contention with a 35-7 mastery of the Vikings Saturday.
Virginia Union (2-3, 2-1 N), coming off a 32-0 shutout of winless Lincoln (Pa.). is on the road Saturday (1 p.m.) in a key division match up at Chowan (5-1, 2-1 N).
In the South, Fayetteville State (4-1, 3-0 S), with what amounts to a two-game lead in the division, hosts Johnson C. Smith (0-5, 0-3). Winless Saint Augustine’s (0-4, 0-3 S) is at Winston-Salem State (1-4, 1-2 S) and Shaw (3-3, 2-1 S) is at Livingstone (1-5, 1-2 S).
HBCU FOOTBALL: SIAC
SIAC East leaders Savannah State (5-1, 3-0), Albany State (5-1, 2-0) and Fort Valley State (4-2, 2-0) have games within the division this week.
Albany State plays at dangerous Benedict. BC (3-3, 0-2), under first-year head coach Chennis Berry, pulled off a stunning, last-second 24-21 win over two-defending SIAC champion Miles at the Golden Bears’ homecoming last Saturday. Savannah State has its homecoming vs. Clark Atlanta (2-4, 0-2) while Fort Valley State is at homecoming at Morehouse (1-5, 1-1). Morehouse knocked off Tuskegee Saturday 31-15 for its first win.
In the wacky SIAC West, Kentucky State (3-3, 2-1) is on top of the standings and travels to Edward Waters (2-4). Miles (2-4, 1-2) is at Lane (4-2, 1-1) and Tuskegee (2-4, 1-1) is at Central State (1-5, 0-3).
HBCU FOOTBALL: MEAC
Only three MEAC teams will hit the field this week. Both Norfolk State (2 p.m. on ESPN3) and South Carolina State (3:30 p.m. on ESPN3) have homecomings Saturday. SCSU (1-4, 0-0 MEAC) hosts Morgan State (0-5, 0-1) in a conference match up. NSU (3-2) is hosting Virginia Lynchburg (0-6).
GAMES THIS WEEK
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16
Prairie View A&M vs. Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, FL 12 n ET
Virginia Union vs. Chowan in Murfreesboro, NC 1 pm ET
Tuskegee vs. Central State in Wilberforce, OH 1 pm ET
Kentucky State vs. Edward Waters in Jacksonville, FL 1 pm ET
Lincoln Mo. vs. Pittsburg State in Pittsburg, KS 1 pm ET
Virginia State vs. Bowie State in Bowie, MD 1:30 pm ET
St. Augustine’s vs. Winston-Salem State in W-Salem, NC 1:30 pm ET
Shaw vs. Livingstone in Salisbury, NC 1:30 pm ET
Albany State vs. Benedict in Columbia, SC 2 pm ET
Tennessee Tech vs. Tennessee State in Nashville, TN 2 pm ET
Miles vs. Lane in Jackson, TN 3 pm ET
Alcorn State vs. Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena, MS 3 pm ET
Elizabeth City State vs. Lincoln in Lincoln, PA 1 pm ET
Va. Lynchburg vs. Norfolk State in Norfolk, VA (ESPN3) 2 pm ET
J. C. Smith vs. Fayetteville State in Fayetteville, NC 2 pm ET
Texas Southern vs. Grambling State in Grambing LA 2 pm ET
Alabama State vs. Jackson State in Jackson, MS (ESPN+) 2 pm ET
Texas Wesleyan vs. Langston in Langston, OK 2 pm ET
Clark Atlanta vs. Savannah State in Savannah, GA (ESPN+) 3 pm ET
Southern vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Pine Bluff, AR (ESPN+) 3 pm ET
Fort Valley State vs. Morehouse in Atlanta, GA (ESPN+) 3 pm ET
Morgan State vs. SC State in Orangeburg, SC (ESPN3) 3:30 pm ET
UNC Pembroke vs. West Virginia State in Institute, WV 6 pm ET
TV / STREAMED GAMES
Florida A&M vs. Alabama A&M in Huntsville, AL (ESPN+) 1 pm ET
NC A&T vs. Kennesaw State in Kennesaw, GA (ESPN+) 5 pm ET
Hampton vs. Charleston Southern in Charleston, SC (ESPN+) 5 pm ET