Monday, May 29, 2017

NC A&T, Grambling State rise to the top

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor
The biggest noise and news on the black college front was made by North Carolina A&T, who pulled off a dramatic 39-36 four overtime win on the road at FBS Mid America Conference (MAC) member Kent State Saturday before a national television audience on ESPN3/Watch ESPN.

With blowout losses by three of the teams ranked ahead of them in the BCSP Top Ten, the upset win – the first-ever for the Aggies (2-0, 0-0 MEAC) over a BCS opponent – propels them from fifth to the top spot in our rankings. But they’ll have little time to celebrate as they hit the road again Saturday (1 p.m.) for another battle against an FBS team at 1-1 Tulsa. That game will also be streamed on ESPN3. The Hurricanes rolled over San Jose State in its season opener 45-10 but came back to be rolled by AP No. 3 Ohio State last week, 48-3.

“It’s going to be a heck of a challenge for our guys,” said A&T head coach Rod Broadway on Tuesday’s MEAC Coaches Teleconference of his battle with the Hurricanes. “Tulsa’s an outstanding football team. I just watched the (Independence) bowl game from last year and they put 50 on Virginia Tech (a 55-52 loss). So, we’ve got our work cut out for us. They’re a much better team that we’ve played so far.” BCSP No. 6 Grambling State almost duplicated A&T’s feat playing at Pac-12 member Arizona Saturday night.

The G-Men, behind the play of transfer quarterback Devante Kincade, ran out to a 21-3 half time lead on the Wildcats. But Kincade was hurt just before the half and did not return. His back-up, Tre’von Cherry threw three second half interceptions and lost a fumble, part of six turnovers after halftime that doomed the Tigers to a 31-21 loss. Because of its efforts, Grambling moves into the No. 2 spot behind A&T as they travel to face rival Jackson State (0-2) Saturday at 6 p.m.

Grambling head coach Broderick Fobbs said Monday on the SWAC Coaches Teleconference that Kincade could have gone back in vs. Arizona but was held out. He should be ready to go against JSU. Alcorn State (1-0, 1-0 SWAC E) moves down from fourth to third in the BCSP ranking after getting its first win, 21-18 in a hard fought battle against fellow SWAC East Division rival Alabama State Saturday. The Braves will host winless Arkansas-Pine Bluff Thursday in a game to be carried on ESPNU.

Former No. 1 North Carolina Central, coming off two blowout losses to Duke (49-6) and Western Michigan (70-21), fell to fourth in our latest ranking. The Eagles are expected to get in the win column Saturday as they host CIAA member Saint Augustine’s (6 p.m.). No. 5 Prairie View A&M (1-1, 1-0 SWAC W) absorbed a 67-0 beating from Texas A&M Saturday and will look to rebound at Alabama A&M (1-1, 1-0 SWAC E). No. 6 Bethune-Cookman (0-1, 0-0 MEAC) will be looking for its first win Saturday (4 p.m.) when it hosts unbeaten Tennessee State (2-0, 0-0 OVC).

No. 7 South Carolina State (0-2, 0-0 ) has the unenviable task of facing its third straight, and unquestionably toughest BCS opponent at 2-0 Clemson, the AP’s second-ranked team. No. 8 Southern (0-2) hosts a SWAC battle with 0-2 Alabama State. Elsewhere, No. 9 Tuskegee tangles with Florida A&M in Mobile, Al., (6 p.m.) while Howard (0-2) and Hampton do battle at RFK Stadium in D. C. (3:30 p.m.).

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