It’s showdown time this week in the CIAA North Division and the SIAC East Division.
Nationally-ranked teams in both conferences are squaring off Saturday against what appears to be the toughest competition in their respective divisions.
CIAA North showdown
In the CIAA North, Virginia Union (6-0, 4-0 CIAA) is undefeated and nationally-ranked (No. 11 in AFCA Div. II poll, 15th in d2football.com Top 25) as it travels to face three-time division and conference champion Bowie State (4-2, 3-1) Saturday (1 p.m.).
VUU, under head coach Dr. Alvin Parker, has come up short in four straight match ups with BSU. The last VUU victory was a 42-35 decision in 2016. Last year, BSU handled VUU 27-7 in Richmond en route to its third straight division and league title. Kyle Jackson is the new interim head coach for BSU.
All signs are indicating this is the year the Panthers may get by the Bulldogs.
The statistical showdown
VUU comes in with the CIAA’s top rusher in Jada Byers. The 5-7, 180-pound sophomore has rushed for a CIAA- and Div. II-best 1,096 yards in six games (182.7 yards per game). He also leads the CIAA and Div. II with 13 rushing touchdowns. The Panthers are averaging 52.2 points per game, again tops in the CIAA and all of Div. II. They are giving up just 12.3 points per game, which also leads the league.
VUU features quarterback Jahkari Grant, whose 11 TD passes have only been surpassed by BSU QB Dion Golatt Jr., who has 13. Golatt’s 271.0 passing yards per game is second in the CIAA. He has thrown six picks. Grant is throwing for 152.8 ypg. with four interceptions.
This should be a good one.
SIAC East showdown
The SIAC East showdown has nationally-ranked and division and conference champ Albany State (4-1, 2-0 SIAC), who is 21st in the AFCA Div. II poll and 14th in the d2football.com Top 25, traveling to undefeated upstart Benedict (5-0, 3-0) for the Tigers’ homecoming (2 p.m.). Benedict, who entered both the AFCA and d2football.com polls this week at 23rd, has won just two of 19 games vs. Albany State.
Last year, ASU handled the Tigers 28-6. The last Benedict win was a 17-12 upset victory in 2017.
The statistical showdown
Albany State has been riding the back of its stingy defense which is giving up just 7.2 points per game. Benedict is also tough on defense surrendering just 9.4 points per game. Benedict leads the league in scoring at 35.0 points per game while ASU is putting up 21.6 ppg.
Head coach Chennis Berry’s Tigers lead the league in total offense (399.0 ypg.) and total defense (203,8 ypg.) Gabe Gardina’s ASU squad is tops in rushing offense at 197.4 ypg. with Benedict just behind at 191,6,
Individually, Benedict senior QB Eric Phoenix has thrown for 704 yards and eight TDs without an interception. ASU junior Dionte Bonneau, the preseason SIAC offensive player of the year, has passed for 785 yards and five TDs with three picks. Benedict freshman Noah Zaire Scotland has run for 360 yards and six TDs to lead the Tigers’ ground game. Junior Marcuis Fulks leads ASU with 355 yards and 5 scores.
This one should be just as good.
The MEAC race is in its early stages but Norfolk State (1-5, 1-0) has jumped on top with its first win Saturday (24-21) over Morgan State. The Spartans will try to build on that early lead as they entertain Delaware State (3-2, 0-0) for homecoming (2 p.m.).
N. C. Central (4-1) hosts Morgan State (2-3, 0-1) for its first league game Thursday night (7:30 p.m.). Howard (1-4) plays its second Ivy League team as it hosts Harvard (3-1) Saturday (4 p.m.) at D. C’s. Audi Field.
Everyone is chasing but can’t seem to catch Jackson State (5-0, 3-0) in the SWAC East. Deion Sanders’ Tigers are in Jacksonville, Fla. to face Bethune-Cookman Saturday (3 p.m.).
The big SWAC game is in the West that has Southern (3-2, 2-1) at division leader Alcorn State (3-2, 2-0) at 6 p.m.
Games this Week
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13
UNC Pembroke vs. West Virginia State in Pembroke, NC 6p
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15
Bowie State vs Virginia Union in Bowie, MD 1p
Chowan (HC) vs. Virginia State in Murfeesboro, NC 1p
St. Augustine’s (HC) vs. J. C. Smith in Raleigh, NC – HBCUGo 1p
Eliz. City State (HC) vs. Lincoln (PA) in Eliz. City, NC – Aspire TV 1p
Livingstone (HC) vs. Fayetteville State in Salisbury, NC 1:30
Winston-Salem State vs. Shaw in Winston-Salem, NC 1:30p
SC State (HC) vs. VA-Lynchburg in Orangeburg, SC – ESPN+ 1:30p
Norfolk State (HC) vs. Delaware State in Norfolk, VA – ESPN+ 2p
Truth & Service Classic
Howard vs. Harvard in Washington, DC – ESPN3 4p
Tuskegee vs. Central State in Tuskegee, AL – ESPN+ 1p
Fort Valley State vs. Morehouse in Fort Valley, GA 2p
Kentucky State vs. Allen in Frankfort, KY 2p
Albany State (HC) vs. Benedict in Albany, GA 2p
Clark Atlanta (HC) vs. Savannah State in Atlanta, GA 2p
Miles vs. Lane (HC) in Fairfield, AL – ESPN+ 4p
Alabama State vs. Miss Valley State in Montgomery, AL 2p
Grambling St. vs. Florida A&M in Grambling, LA – HBCUGo 2p
Jackson State vs. Bethune-Cookman in Jacksonville, FL – ESPN+ 3p
Southern vs. Alcorn State in Baton Rouge, LA – ESPN+ 6p
Lincoln (MO) vs. Pittsburg State in Jefferson City, MO 2p
Lyon vs. Texas College in Batesville, AR 2p
Texas Wesleyan vs. Langston in Fort Worth, TX 2p
Florida Memorial vs. St. Thomas in Miami Gardens, FL 6p
NC A&T vs. Edward Waters in Greensboro, NC – ESPN+ 1p
Albany (NY) vs. Hampton in Albany, NY – FloSports 3:30p
Tenn. Tech vs. Tennessee State in Cookeville, TN – ESPN+ 6p
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16