Games between teams ranked in the BCSP Top Ten highlight match ups in the first weekend of October.
The annual State Fair Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Saturday (4 p.m.) between BCSP No. 2 Grambling State (4-1, 1-0 SWAC W) and BCSP No. 5 Prairie View A&M (2-2, 2-0 W) is the game to watch in the SWAC this week.
In the statistical breakdown, the two current leaders in the West Division standings enter the game in much the same position.
Prairie View averages 29.0 points per game, second-best in the conference, with Grambling third at 28.4 points. The Panthers are giving up 24.2 points per game (3rd) while Grambling leads the league surrendering 20.0 ppg.
The teams are first (PV) and third (GSU) in total defense, first (PV) and third (GSU) in rushing offense, first (GSU) and second (PV) in rushing defense and third (PV) and fourth (GSU) in passing offense.
Grambling State’s Martez Carter is second in the league in rushing (78.2 ypg., 4 TDs) while PV’s Dawonya Tucker is fifth at 60.0 ypg. also with four TDs. GSU QB Devante Kincade is third in passing stats with PV QB Lavell McCuller just behind him in fourth. The winner will have a leg up in the division race.
Elsewhere, BCSP No. 4 Alcorn State (3-2, 1-0 E) is at Alabama State (0-4, 0-1 E) Thursday in a 6:30 p.m. game to be carried live on ESPNU. Alcorn is trying to keep pace with Alabama A&M atop the East Division race while Alabama State and head coach Brian Jenkins are looking for their first win.
Alabama A&M (2-3, 2-0 SWAC E) has the best record in the East Division as they travel Saturday (6 p.m.) to Baton Rouge (La.) to face Southern (2-3, 0-1 W), a perennial West Division contender.
Alabama A&M is coming off back-to-back wins over Texas Southern and Arkansas Pine Bluff. Head coach James Spady has employed freshman QB Aqeel Glass under center and he has averaged 314 passing yards in the past two games. Southern senior QB Austin Howard is expected to start vs. A&M after leaving last week’s win over Fort Valley State with an ankle injury.
In other games Saturday, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-3, 1-1 W) hosts (6 p.m.) Mississippi Valley State (0-4, 0-1 E) while Texas Southern (0-4, 0-1) has an out of conference game (6 p.m.) at Kennesaw State (3-1).
Howard, under first-year head coach Mike London and with true freshman quarterback Caylin Newton at the controls, has been the surprise team in the MEAC this year. Though picked to finish ninth in the 11-team conference before the season started, the surprise team characterization was cemented two weeks ago when the Bison stunned Bethune-Cookman, one of the conference favorites, in a last-minute 26-24 win.
The Bison, who opened the season with a win over FBS member UNLV, were off last week. Now London and his troops face the Eagles who have won parts of three straight MEAC titles in head coach Jerry Mack’s three seasons including last year’s first-ever outright championship. NCCU has posted close wins in conference play over South Carolina State (26-24) and Florida A&M (21-14) and is expected to start freshman Chauncey Caldwell at quarterback opposite Newton.
In other games Saturday, BCSP No. 1 North Carolina A&T (5-0, 2-0), up to 12th (from 13th) in the national FCS Coaches Poll and 16th (from 17th) in the STATS FCS poll, has its homecoming 1 p.m.) vs. Delaware State (0-4, 0-2).
Hampton (2-2, 1-0) has its homecoming (2 p.m.) vs. Savannah State (0-4, 0-2) while Norfolk State (1-3, 1-0) is hosting (2 p.m.) Florida A&M (2-3, 1-1).
On Friday, South Carolina State (1-3, 0-2) hosts Morgan State (0-4, 0-1) in a game to be carried live on ESPNU (7:30 p.m.).
In the North, four teams are tied with 2-0 marks in conference play. In Saturday’s North battles, undefeated BCSP No. 6 Bowie State (5-0, 2-0), now 19th in both NCAA Div. II national polls, is hosting (4 p.m.) Chowan (2-3, 2-0), Elizabeth City State (3-2, 1-1) is hosting (1 p.m.) BCSP No. 8 Virginia State (4-0, 2-0) and Lincoln (0-5, 0-1) is hosting (5 p.m.) Virginia Union (3-2, 2-0).
The South Division schedule has Shaw (2-3, 1-1) at (1 p.m.) Fayetteville State (1-4, 0-2), Johnson C. Smith (0-5, 0-2) at (1:30 p.m.) Winston-Salem State (3-2, 1-1) and Livingstone (0-5, 0-2) at (1 p.m.) Saint Augustine’s (1-4, 1-1).
In the wide-open SIAC, the East Division game (4 p.m.) of Fort Valley State (1-3, 1-1 SIAC) at Clark Atlanta (3-2, 2-1) and the West Division match up of Central State (0-5, 0-4) hosting (1 p.m.) Miles (2-3, 2-1) are of the intra-divisional variety.
In inter-divisional play, Morehouse (3-2, 3-1 E) has its traditional classic in Columbus, Ga. (2 p.m.) vs. Tuskegee (3-2, 2-1 W). Three others are involved in non-conference games as Albany State (3-2) hosts (1 p.m.) Lincoln (Mo.) (1-3), Kentucky State hosts (1:30 p.m.) West Virginia State (2-3) and Lane (1-4) hosts (2 p.m.) Langston (4-0).