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Races heat up in all four conferences

BCSP Editor

Hurricane Matthew caused more than a little damage and quite a bit of havoc to football schedules last week and is also affecting schedules this week. Two MEAC games from last week – Morgan State at Savannah State and Bethune-Cookman at South Carolina State – had to be postponed due to the hurricane and have been re-scheduled for Thanksgiving Saturday, Nov. 26. Four other games last week were switched from Saturday to Thursday, Friday or Sunday due to the weather. This week’s MEAC game between BCSP No. 1 North Carolina A&T and Bethune-Cookman scheduled for Daytona Beach, Fla. on Thursday has been reset for Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Daytona Beach area, the B-CU campus and the city’s Memorial Stadium were hit hard by Matthew. Power was lost at both venues, the press box at the stadium had windows blown out and had damage to its tower roof. League officials decided to move the game to Saturday to give the school and the stadium as much time as possible to resume normal operations. The game was set to be carried live on ESPNU Thursday but will now be streamed live on ESPN3 Saturday and re-aired at 10:30 p.m Saturday on ESPNU.

The game is a match up of two of the three MEAC tri-champions from last season. But, while A&T (4-1, 2-0 MEAC) has gotten off to a great start including a four-overtime win over FBS member Kent State and is 15th in this week’s STATS FCS national poll, B-CU (0-4, 0-2) has yet to crack the winner’s circle. BCSP No. 2 Grambling State (3-1, 3-0 SWAC W), who is off for the second straight week, is the only other black college team in the STATS FCS Top 25, at 25th. The slow start by second-year head coach Terry Sims’ B-CU Wildcats can be attributed to injuries at key positions. Starting quarterback Larry Brihm and back-up Anthony Cruz have both been battling injuries as has featured running back Mike Jones, who has yet to play this season.

Freshman Arkevious Williams is expected to take most of the snaps for B-CU. The ‘Cats are averaging an anemic 17.0 points per game. The Aggies lead the MEAC at 37.6 points per contest led by dynamic running back Tarik Cohen’s 134 yards per game and 7 touchdowns. Cohen is the top MEAC scorer at 8.4 points per game. A&T also tops the league in rushing defense (81.0 ypg.), total defense (305.6 ypg.), scoring defense (20.6 ppg.) and rushing offense (198.0 ypg.).

The other 2015 tri-champion, BCSP No. 3 North Carolina Central (4-2, 3-0), has homecoming (2 p.m.) Saturday vs. Savannah State (1-3, 1-1). Delaware State and Hampton also square off at their homcomings Saturday. DSU (0-5, 0-2) hosts Florida A&M (1-5, 1-2) while Hampton (2-3, 2-1) entertains Morgan State (2-2, 2-0). Also, Howard (1-5, 1-2) is playing host to BCSP No. 7 South Carolina State (1-3, 1-0). The main CIAA North Division contenders are set to meet this Saturday. Division co-leader and BCSP No. 9 Bowie State (4-2, 3-0 CIAA, 1-0 N) hosts Virginia State (5-1, 2-1), who is also 1-0 in the North, at homecoming.

The BSU/VSU match up will be carried live on ASPIRE Network at 2 p.m. At 1 p.m., Chowan (4-2, 2-1, 0-1) plays host to co-leader and BCSP No. 10 Virginia Union (4-2, 3-2, 1-0) in Murfreesboro, N. C. (1 p.m.). South Division co-leaders Winston-Salem State (4-2, 3-0, 1-0 S) and Saint Augustine’s (2-4, 2-1, 1-0 S) meet at WSSU’s homecoming (1:30p.m.). Fayetteville State (1-5, 1-2), also at 1-0 in the South, hosts (1 p.m.) Johnson C. Smith (1-5, 1-2, 0-1).

The SWAC features East vs. West tussles in all but one of its games. BCSP No. 6 and West colluder Southern (2-2, 2-0 W) is at East Division leader Jackson State (2-3, 2-1) in a 6 p.m. start. Alcorn State (2-3, 2-2), just a half-game behind JSU in the East, has its homecoming (2 p.m.) vs. Texas Southern (3-2, 2-1 W). Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-4, 1-2 W) brings in Alabama A&M (1-5, 1-4 E) for its homecoming (2:30 p.m.). Alabama State (1-5, 1-4 E) is at home (2p.m.) against Mississippi Valley State (0-5, 0-4 E) in an East Division battle. BCSP No. 5 Tennessee State (4-1, 1-1 OVC) has its homecoming (6 p.m.) Saturday vs. Eastern Kentucky (2-3, 1-1). BCSP No. 4 Tuskegee (6-0, 4-0, 1-0 W) is the only unbeaten team left in black college football and is up to No. 5 in the AFCA Div. II National Coaches Poll. The Golden Tigers are 10th in the top 25. They are off this week.

In SIAC East games, Benedict (3-3, 2-1, 1-0) plays at Clark Atlanta’s (4-2, 2-2, 1-1 E) homecoming (2 p.m.) with the division lead at stake. Morehouse (2-4, 1-3, 0-1) hosts Albany State (2-3, 1-1, 0-0) in Atlanta (2 p.m.). In the West two homecomings are on tap. Kentucky State (2-4, 2-0, 1-0) has its homecoming vs. Miles (3-2, 2-1, 1-0) at 2 p.m. while Central State (0-6, 0-4, 0-2) has homecoming (1p.m.) vs. Lane (4-2, 2-0, 0-1).

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