The end of October weekend this week signals the beginning of the final two weeks of the SIAC and CIAA regular season and divisional races before their Nov. 11 championship games in Montgomery, Alabama and Salem, Virginia respectively.
But that’s not even half the story. In both conferences, a strange, or maybe I should say, convoluted (def. complex and difficult) set of circumstances is in play that has a bearing on those races.
Additionally, the location of the SIAC title game, scheduled for Montgomery, is apparently under review. The SIAC lists three different locations (Albany, Ga., Fort Valley, Ga. and Montgomery) on its website. We’ll attempt to resolve that puzzle next week. But let’s first focus this week on the division races and how those champions will be determined.
In the SIAC, disregard what you’ve been seeing in our conference standings prior to this week. Take a look at the adjusted SIAC standings listed above in our latest standings. Reflected there are the official records in conference play based on the conference’s designation of which games count towards determining the division winner and representative in the Nov. 11 title game in Montgomery.
According to an official conference source, the division winner will be determined by a six game conference schedule that includes the four games against teams in your division and the last two cross-divisional games played.
So, for example, Fort Valley State is now listed in first place in the East Division with a 4-0 conference record. That is because the Wildcats are 2-0 vs. East Division foes (wins over Clark Atlanta and Benedict) and has two wins over the last two weeks vs. their cross-division foes from the West (Lane and Central State). Their 29-10 loss to Miles of the West Division on Sept. 16 is not included in the conference standings.
Their remaining two games are against teams in the East Division. FVSU closes with its homecoming date this Saturday (2 p.m.) at home vs. Morehouse and then faces traditional season-ending divisional foe Albany State in Columbus, Ga. on Nov. 4.
Benedict and Albany State, both tied for second in the East with 3-1 records, meet in Albany, Ga. Saturday (2 p.m.) in what could be an elimination game in the East. Benedict closes its regular season next week (Nov. 4) vs. Kentucky State of the West Division.
In the West there are similar scenarios. With the adjusted standings, Tuskegee leads the division with a 4-0 conference record based on wins over divisional foes Lane and Kentucky State and wins over its last two cross divisional opponents, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta.
Tuskegee’s 20-7 loss to Albany State on Sept. 9 does not count in the conference standings. Tuskegee hosts Central State Saturday (1 p.m.).
Miles, with only a loss to Albany State (34-9) on Sept. 30, is lurking in second place in the West with a 3-1 record. The Golden Bears face Clark Atlanta Thursday (6 p.m.) of the East Division, in their final cross-divisional game. Miles and Tuskegee meet next week (Nov. 4) in their traditional season-ender that will be played this year at Tuskegee.
The CIAA is determining its divisional winners based on a seven-game conference schedule. It is using five games vs. division foes and two designated cross-divisional games. As it stands now, Virginia State (7-0 overall) leads the North Division with a 5-0 CIAA record as it heads to visit (1 p.m.) Chowan (3-5, 3-2 CIAA) Saturday.
Bowie State (7-1) and Virginia Union (5-3) are in second place with 4-1 conference records. Lincoln visits BSU Saturday (1 p.m.) while Elizabeth City State is at VUU’s homecoming (1 p.m.).
The anomaly comes later.
Next week, VSU plays at home against traditional season-ending division rival Virginia Union which will complete its conference countable games. But the Trojans also have a contest scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9 at home vs. Shaw of the South Division.
That game will only be played if VSU does not win the North Division title and qualify for the CIAA title game. The game will be played if VSU needs it to satisfy the NCAA requirement of a 10-game schedule to qualify for the playoffs. VSU is now ranked third in the NCAA Div. II Super Region II. The top eight teams in the region at the end of the season qualify for the playoffs.
In the South Division, Fayetteville State, Saint Augustine’s and Winston-Salem State are currently tied with 3-2 conference records with Shaw lurking at 2-3. All four will be involved in homecoming tilts this week.
FSU is playing at Livingstone’s (0-5) homecoming (1:30 p.m.), St. Aug’s is playing at Johnson C. Smith’s (1-4) homecoming (1 p.m.) and WSSU has its homecoming (1:30 p.m.) vs. Shaw. Livingstone is the only team out of the division title race.
The MEAC race got a little tighter as Latrell Scott’s Norfolk State squad ended North Carolina Central’s 18-game conference win streak with a dramatic 28-21 win Saturday in Durham. That result leaves North Carolina A&T (5-0) and Hampton (4-0) with the only unblemished records in conference play and on top of the standings.
With its 24-20 win over Bethune-Cookman Saturday, NC A&T (8-0 overall) moved into the FCS Top Ten in both the Coaches (6th) and STATS (7th) polls. The Aggies are off this week.
This Saturday, Hampton travels to Daytona Beach, Fla. to take on Bethune-Cookman (2-2) at the Wildcats’ homecoming (4 p.m.). NSU, NCCU and Howard are tied for second with 3-1 league marks headed into homecoming games this weekend.
Norfolk State has its homecoming (2 p.m.) vs. Savannah State, NCCU has its homecoming (2 p.m.) vs. Delaware State and Howard travels to Orangeburg, S.C. for the South Carolina State homecoming (1:30 p.m.).
In the SWAC, West Division leader Grambling State, playing at home, knocked off East leader Alcorn State 41-14 Saturday to extended its league-best mark to 3-0. The G-Men have homecoming (4 p.m.) this week vs. winless Texas Southern (0-6, 0-2). Alcorn State is off.
The 76th Magic City Classic will match Alabama State and Alabama A&M in their traditional showdown at Legion Field in Birmingham (2:30 p.m.). Alabama A&M is currently tied with Alcorn State atop the East Division with 3-1 records.