Week 11 of the HBCU Football Rundown represents the end for some conferences and a continuation for others.
The 2021 NCAA Div. II football campaigns have wound through ten grueling weeks for the CIAA and SIAC regular season races to end at the same places they have for the last two campaigns.
For the FCS conferences – the MEAC and SWAC, as well as the OVC and Big South – regular season play towards crowning a champion continues this week. Those titles will be determined over the next two weeks.
HBCU Football Rundown – NCAA Div. II
This Saturday (1 p.m.), North Division champion Bowie State (9-1, 7-0 CIAA N) will face South Division champ Fayetteville State (8-1, 7-0 S) in Salem, Virginia for the third straight year in the CIAA Championship Game.
While in Fairfield, Alabama Saturday (2 p.m.), Western Division winner Miles (6-4, 4-2 W) will tangle with East Division champion Albany State (9-1, 6-0 E) also for the third time is as many SIAC title games.
The results in both conferences have also been the same.
Bowie State has won the last two CIAA championship games. Ditto for Miles in the SIAC. There are a few reasons this year’s outcomes may be different.
CIAA title game matchup
Head Coach Damon Wilson’s Bowie State Bulldogs have defeated Richard Hayes Jr.’s Fayetteville State Bulldogs by 30-10 (2018) and 23-7 (2019) scores in the last two CIAA title games.
Of course, that has not sat well with Hayes. He has vowed after each of those losses that his team and program were taking the steps necessary to reverse those outcomes.
Offense – Team stats
As the scores of those title games indicates, one of the things Hayes had to address was his team’s ability, or lack thereof, to put points on the board. To that end, the Broncos finished as the second-highest scoring team in the CIAA (to Chowan’s 38.5 ppg.) at 32.9 points per game this season. The Broncos were just above Bowie State, who scored at a 32.3 points per game clip.
The Broncos are also above the Bulldogs in total (394.4 yards per game to 383.3) and passing (237.9 to 186.6 ypg.) offense.
Perhaps the additional tell-tale sign that the combatants are more evenly matched now is on defense. The two are on near even terms when defensive numbers are compared.
Defense wins and both are good
Fayetteville State leads the CIAA in total defense surrendering just 203.1 yards per game and in scoring defense giving up just 12.0 points per game. Bowie State trails in both categories but not by much. The Bulldogs give up just 208.9 yards and 13.8 points per contest.
Bowie State is first (84.4 ypg.) and FSU second (89.0 ypg.) in rushing defense with the order reversed in passing defense (FSU, 114.1 ypg., BSU 124.5 ypg.).
Given these numbers, it is easy to see why both teams were undefeated and dominant in their respective divisions.
Individuals – Offense
Individually, Bowie State senior Calil Wilkins is second (943 yards, 8 TDs) in the CIAA rushing stats. FSU’s Donshel Jetton is fourth (627 yds., 4 TDs). FSU QB Khari Lane’s 2,081 passing yards, 231.2 yards per game, is just above BSU’s Ja’Rome Johnson’s totals of 1,551 yards and 155.1 ypg. Lane has 20 TD tosses while Johnson has 18.
Tyeous Sharpe, who also doubles as a dangerous kick returner. leads the FSU receivers with 38 catches for 499 yards and 7 TDs. Keshan Hickley tops the Bowie State receivers with 24 grabs for 344 yards and two scores.
Individuals – Defense
Who plays better between the two stingy defenses is likely to determine Saturday’s winner.
The defensive playmaker and disruptor for the Broncos is 6-3, 280-pound graduate defensive end Keyshawn James. He has totaled league-bests of 10.5 sacks and 21.0 tackles for loss this season and leads FSU with 62 tackles. Redshirt sophomore Jonathan Ross (6-3, 260) and redshirt junior Joshua Pryor (6-4, 280) have been the defensive standouts for BSU. Ross has 19.0 tackles for loss and six sacks while Pryor has 15.5 TFL and five sacks. BSU freshman defensive end Joseph Murray has posted eight sacks.
Fayetteville State and Bowie State dominate the all-CIAA teams that were just announced on Wednesday. FSU placed 11 players on the team with James chosen as the defensive player of the year and senior Greg Brooks named the offensive lineman of the year. BSU players garnering nine spots. Wilson was named coach of the year. Bowie State is ranked 12th nationally in the AFCA Div. II Coaches Poll.
SIAC title game match up
The scenario entering the SIAC Championship Game is similar.
Miles prevailed over Albany State in the 2018 SIAC title game 50-23 and bested the Golden Rams in the 2019 championship game, 21-6.
Fifth-year head ASU head coach Gabe Giardina has turned those losses around already in 2021. His Rams ran by 10th-year head coach Reginald Ruffin’s Golden Bears on Oct. 2 this season, 31-3.
Though the score indicates a blowout, it wasn’t that way. Albany State capitalized on Miles mistakes while Miles did not do the same. ASU scored off an interception and fumble recovery to pull away.
Albany State defense best in nation
Albany State has surrendered just 5.2 points per game, tops in the SIAC and best in all of NCAA Div. II football. The Golden Rams have four shutout wins and have only surrendered double-digit points in three games.
Their only loss on the season was 21-3 to undefeated AFCA No. 2 Valdosta State (9-0) on Sept. 18. VSU averages 41 points per game. Albany State is ranked 18th in the latest AFCA poll.
The ASU defense is led by linebackers Stephan Pierre (82 tackles) and graduate LB Coemba Jones (47). Offensively, freshman QB Dionte Bonneau (1,583 passing yards, 17 TDs, 8 ints.) has been a revelation. Running back Marcuis Fulks (589 rushing yards, 10 TDs) has been a nice compliment. Placekicker Gabriel Ballinas’s ten field goals tops the conference.
Miles an underdog again. Watch out!
With four losses on its resume, including the earlier loss to Albany State, Miles will come in as a decided underdog. That’s nothing new for Ruffin and the Golden Bears. When they defeated Albany State 50-23 for the 2018 title, they came in with a 4-6 record including a 30-24 loss to Albany State that season.
Bruising running back (6-0, 225), junior Donte Edwards (976 yds., 5.5 ypc., 8 TDs), is the SIAC’s top rusher. Grad Kingston Davis is another bruiser (6-0, 225). The two should help the Golden Bears control the ball. Redshirt junior QB Claude Newell has passed for 1,211 yards and 12 TDs with just two interceptions. Sophomore wideout Christopher Brown tops the receivers with 12 catches for 337 yards and four TDs. Sophomore LB Andrew Gaylor leads the team with 54 tackles.
The NCAA Div. II playoff picture
Both the CIAA and SIAC are in Super Region II as it relates to NCAA Div. II designations for postseason play.
In this week’s rankings, Bowie State is second and Albany State third in the region. Savannah State of the SIAC is eighth and Fayetteville State is tenth. Only seven teams from each of the four Div. II regions make the 28-team playoff field.
Based on the rankings going into this week’s CIAA and SIAC title games, both Bowie State and Albany State are likely to make the playoff field from the region. Fayetteville State has an outside shot to get in to one of the seven slots with a win over BSU.
The NCAA Div. II Selection Show where the 28-team field will be unveiled is this Sunday, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. ET. The Selection Show will be carried live on ncaa.com.
HBCU Football Rundown – SWAC and MEAC
There were some key developments in the SWAC and MEAC football races this past weekend but the races are not quite over.
The loss gives Prairie View A&M (7-1, 6-0) a two-game lead in the West over Alcorn State (5-4, 4-2 W) and at least a share of the division title. The Panthers and Braves have just two conference games left.
Prairie View plays at Alcorn State Saturday (2 p.m.) and closes on Nov. 27 hosting Mississippi Valley State. Alcorn State closes at Jackson State next Saturday (Nov. 20). Any combination of a Prairie View win or Alcorn State loss over these last two games gives the Panthers the division title and spot in the Dec. 4 SWAC Championship Game.
Jackson State (8-1, 6-0 E) is in the driver’s seat in the East as it travels to Baton Rouge, La. to face Southern Saturday (6 p.m.). A JSU win gives the East title to the Tigers. Florida A&M (7-2, 5-1 E), still a game behind JSU in the East, is at Arkansas-Pine Bluff Saturday (2 p.m.).
That decision gives South Carolina State (5-4, 4-0) and head coach Buddy Pough at least a share of the league’s regular season title. The Bulldogs can claim the title outright and a spot in the season-ending Celebration Bowl with either a win in its last game on Nov. 20 vs. Norfolk State or a Norfolk State loss.
Norfolk State (6-3, 2-1) plays at Delaware State Saturday (1 p.m.).
Big South and OVC
Both NC A&T (4-5, 3-3) and Hampton (4-5, 2-3) are just behind Kennesaw State (5-0) and Monmouth (5-0) in the Big South but out of contention for the league title. NC A&T has a non-conference game against former MEAC rival South Carolina State in Orangeburg, SC (1:30 p.m.) this Saturday before finishing with conference foe Gardner-Webb next week.
GAMES THIS WEEK
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2021
Bethune-Cookman vs. Grambling State in Grambling, LA 11 am
Missouri Western vs. Lincoln (Mo.) 11 am
Charleston vs. West Virginia State in Institute, WV 12 noon
Morgan State vs. Albany in Albany, NY 1 pm ET
Edward Waters vs. Allen in Columbia, SC 1 pm ET
Prairie View A&M vs. Alcorn State in Lorman, MS 2 pm
Kentucky State vs. Erskine in Greenwood, SC 4 pm ET
SAGU vs. Langston in Langston, OK 4 pm
Florida Memorial vs. Southeastern Univ. in Lakeland, FL 7 pm
Norfolk State vs. Delaware State in Dover, DE (ESPN+) 1 pm ET
NC Central vs. Howard in Washington, DC (ESPN+) 1 pm ET
Alabama State vs. Miss. Valley State in Itta Bena, MS (ESPN+) 1 pm
Hampton vs. Campbell in Buies Creek, NC (ESPN+) 1 pm
NC A&T vs. S. C. State in Orangeburg, SC (ESPN+) 1:30 pm
Alabama A&M vs. Texas Southern in Houston, TX (ESPN+) 2 pm
Florida A&M vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Pine Bluff, AR (ESPN+) 2 pm
Austin Peay vs. Tennessee State in Nashville, TN (ESPN+) 2 pm
Jackson State vs. Southern in Baton Rouge, LA (ESPN3) 6 pm
SIAC Championship Game
Albany State vs. Miles in Fairfield, AL 2 pm ET
CIAA Championship Game
Bowie State vs. Fayetteville State in Salem, VA (Aspire TV) 1 pm ET