Grambling State or Alcorn State has been at the top of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) food chain for the last three seasons. And the two stalwarts are right back in the thick of things in 2017.
BCSP No. 2 Grambling State (5-1, 2-0 W) leads the SWAC West Division and BCSP No. 4 Alcorn State (5-2, 3-0 E) leads the East as they head for a big showdown this Saturday (2 p.m.) at Grambling’s homecoming.
To say this week’s game is likely a preview of the Dec. 2 SWAC Championship game in Houston, the league’s 19th and final title game, would be stating the obvious.
Alcorn State, winner of the last three East Division titles, then playing under head coach Jay Hopson, defeated West Division champ Southern 38-24 for the 2014 SWAC title, the first league championship for the Braves since 1994.
In the 2015 title game, Hopson’s Braves met West Division titleist Grambling, in its second year under head coach Broderick Fobbs, and came away with its second straight league crown in a 49-21 win.
Last season, Fobbs and Grambling won their second straight West Division crown and met the Braves, now coached by first-year head man Fred McNair, in the championship game. The G-Men roared back from a 17-0 halftime deficit, primarily behind the play of RB/KR Martez Carter and QB Devante Kincade, to defeat the Braves 27-20 and earn the 2016 title.
In the four years since Fobbs took over at Grambling, he has a 4-1 record vs. Alcorn State with his only loss coming in that 2015 title game. Perhaps the most scintillating of his wins vs. the Braves was a 35-34 overtime thriller before a packed house in Lorman, Mississippi in 2015 at Alcorn State’s homecoming.
Expect another packed house for another homecoming showdown Saturday. Alcorn (31.0 points per game) and Grambling (29.3 ppg.) are 1-2 in the SWAC in scoring offense and first (GSU 20.2 ppg.) and second (ALC 21.6 ppg.) in scoring defense. Alcorn leads in total offense (440.9 ypg.) and rushing offense (211.3 ypg.) while Grambling has the league’s stingiest run defense (62.7 ypg.).
Alcorn’s De’Lance Turner (112.6 ypg., 3 TDs) and Grambling’s Carter (88.2 ypg., 5 TDs) are 1-2 in rushing while Alcorn’s Lenorris Footman (210.3 ypg., 9 TDs) and Grambling’s Kincade (194.0 ypg. 8 TDs) are 1-2 in passing.
The team that rushes the ball best is likely to come out as the winner. In other words, everything is in place for a classic showdown. And its homecoming. It should be exciting.
In the CIAA, former nationally-ranked Bowie State (6-1, 3-1, 1-1 N) was knocked from the unbeaten ranks and the top of the CIAA North Saturday 47-35 by undefeated Virginia State at the Trojans’ homecoming. The Bulldogs will attempt to bounce back as they entertain (1 p.m.) North Division co-leader Virginia Union (5-2, 4-0, 2-0 N).
BCSP No. 5 VSU (6-0, 4-0, 2-0), now into the AFCA Div. II Coaches Poll at 21st nationally, travels to winless Lincoln (0-7, 0-4, 0-2) for the Lions’ homecoming (1 p.m.).
Saint Augustine’s (3-4, 3-1, 2-0 S) pulled off a shocker in upsetting three-time South Division champ Winston-Salem State Saturday, 17-14. The Falcons will now play (2 p.m.) for the division lead at South co-leader Fayetteville State (3-4, 2-2, 2-0 S).
The MEAC heads down the stretch with three teams – BCSP No. 3 North Carolina Central, BCSP No. 1 North Carolina A&T and BCSP No. 8 Hampton – undefeated in league play and tied for first. Each has a formidable opponent this week.
Defending champion N. C. Central (5-1, 3-0 MEAC) is at home (2 p.m.) to face Norfolk State (2-4, 2-1). North Carolina A&T, up to 11th nationally in the FCS Coaches Poll, hosts (1 p.m.) Bethune-Cookman (3-3, 2-1) and Hampton (4-2, 3-0) has its homecoming vs. Florida A&M (2-5, 1-3). A&T/B-CU will be streamed live on ESPN3.
Albany State (5-2, 3-0 SIAC), up to 10th in the latest BCSP ranking, leads the SIAC East Division as it travels to homecoming (2 p.m.) at Clark Atlanta (3-4, 2-3). Aspire TV is carrying the game live. Second-place Benedict (4-2, 3-1 E) is in for homecoming (2 p.m.) at Morehouse (3-4, 2-3). West Division leader Miles (4-3, 4-1) is hosting (4 p.m.) Lane (1-6, 0-5). Second place Tuskegee (5-2, 3-1) is at homecoming Hill (1:30 p.m.) at Kentucky State (2-5, 1-2).