The HBCU schedule winds thru mid-September this weekend with a number of intriguing match ups.
Mid Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas loves to see the teams in his conference battle (and beat) the best teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
That’s just what they’ll have a chance to do this weekend. In Richmond Saturday (2 p.m.), the match up of 1-1 teams Howard and STATS FCS No. 8 Richmond is intriguing on many levels.
Howard is the talk of the MEAC and of the FCS world after splitting games on the road against two FBS teams – a stunning 43-40 win over UNLV to open the season and a near-miss 38-31 loss at Kent State Saturday.
Howard senior running back Anthony Philyaw (119.0 rushing yards per game, 3 TDs) and freshman quarterback Caylin Newton (112.0 rypg., 4 TDs) have been the offensive stars for the Bison. They are 1-2 in MEAC rushing yards per game while the Bison (267.5 ypg.) are the league’s top rushing team and second-best scoring team (37.0 points per game).
Howard received 251 votes this week in the STATS FCS national poll which landed the Bison 27th, just outside the Top 25 Richmond has split games on the road against two ranked FCS teams, No. 3 Sam Houston State and No. 25 Colgate.
The No. 8 Spiders fell 48-34 in their season-opener to SHSU despite a school record 546 passing yards from quarterback Kyle Lauletta. Lauletta threw for over 300 yards vs. Colgate but it was a Griffin Trau 27-yard field goal with under two minutes left that let them escape with a 20-17 win Saturday. Lauletta tops the FCS in passing yards (852) and passing yards per game (426.0 ypg.).
Adding to the drama is that new Howard head coach Mike London played (1979-82) and coached (2008, 2009) at Richmond where as head coach he led the Spiders to the 2008 FCS national championship.
And don’t forget, Howard’s Newton is the little brother of Carolina Panthers’ star quarterback Cam Newton.
This is definitely one to watch. The game will be televised on CSN Mid-Atlantic. It is also the home opener for Richmond and the Spiders’ website has already announced it is sold out.
In Charlotte (6 p.m.) Saturday, MEAC member North Carolina A&T (2-0), 25th in this week’s FCS poll, faces winless FBS and Conference USA member Charlotte (0-2).
The Aggies have beaten one FCS opponent, Gardner-Webb 45-3, and one Div. II opponent, Mars Hill 56-0. They will be seeking to add an FBS scalp to its haul Saturday.
A&T quarterback Lamar Raynard leads the FCS in passing efficiency and is third in completion percentage (.766). He has hit on 36 of 47 passes for 583 yards, 8 touchdowns with no interceptions.
Charlotte has scored one touchdown in each of its losses, 24-7 to Eastern Michigan and 48-7 to Kansas State. Charlotte quarterback Hassan Klugh began his career as a freshman quarterback playing for A&T.
MEAC member Florida A&M (1-1) travels to Tampa, Florida Saturday (6 p.m.) to take on STATS FCS No. 22 Tennessee State (2-0). The game, billed the Tampa Classic, is expected to be played despite the weather in Florida.
FAMU quarterback Ryan Stanley, who missed the 49-7 loss to Arkansas two weeks ago with a turf-toe injury, is expected to be back in uniform Saturday. Stanley (19-32-0) threw for 217 yards and a score in the season-opening win over Texas Southern.
TSU counters with Florida transfer Treon Harris who has run and passed the Blue Tigers to wins over FBS Georgia State and Jackson State.
Winless MEAC member Norfolk State (0-2) goes up against defending FCS champion and current STATS FCS No. 1 James Madison (2-0) Saturday (3:30 p.m.) on the Dukes’ home turf in Harrisonburg, Va..
All the Dukes have done so far is run for 422 yards, 265 by running back Cardon Johnson, in a 34-14 dismantling of FBS member East Carolina to open the season and administer a 54-14 whipping on East Tennessee State last week as quarterback Bryan Schor threw for 304 yards and five touchdowns.
NSU, despite being in both games, has dropped a 14-10 decision to Div. II Virginia State and fallen to William & Mary, 20-6 Saturday. The Spartans and head coach Latrell Scott will have a big test keeping up with the Dukes. One other game involves an HBCU team ranked in the FCS Top 25.
Grambling State (1-1) is ranked 24th in this week’s STATS poll as it opens SWAC play Saturday at home (6 p.m. streamed on ESPN3) vs. Jackson State (0-2). After dropping its opener at Tulane, the G-Men got back on track with a 23-10 home win over Northwestern State Saturday. Martez Carter led the way with 145 rushing yards and a score while QB Devante Kincade threw for 231 yards and a TD.
Southern (1-1) will enter its second consecutive game without the services of career passing leader Austin Howard. The Jaguars play at (6 p.m.) against FBS Conference USA foe Texas-San Antonio (1-0) not knowing who exactly will be under center. Howard strained his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in an opening week win over South Carolina State and did not play in last week’s 45-0 loss at Southern Miss.
Two other SWAC schools have dates vs. FCS Southland Conference members as Alcorn State (1-1) hosts (6 p.m.) McNeese State (1-1) and Prairie View A&M (0-1) travels to Nichols State (1-1).
The big game in the SIAC has unbeaten upstart Clark Atlanta (2-0) trying to win at (1 p.m.) perennial conference power Tuskegee (1-1). In the CIAA, 2016 champion Winston-Salem State (1-1) tries to bounce back from a loss at home to Bowie State when it travels (1 p.m.) to Virginia Union (1-1).