Plenty to watch in full week of action


IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Prolific Bowie State passer Amir Hall (l.) and Granville Eastman (r.). debuting as Jerry Mack’s replacement as head coach at North Carolina Central are among players and coaches to watch as action shifts into full swing this week.

Only three games were contested last week A total of 37 games are on tap this week beginning with a slate of eight games on Thursday.A week after BCSP No. 1 North Carolina A&T (a 20-17 win over FCS 6th-ranked Jacksonville State) and BCSP No. 5 Prairie View A&M (a 31-28 last-second loss to FBS Rice) represented the HBCU ranks well on the national scene, everyone else jumps into the fray.

Of the teams in the BCSP Top Ten, No. 8 Bowie State, the CIAA favorite, is to first to take the field travelling to Staten Island, New York Thursday (6 p.m.) to face Wagner. Everyone will be tuned to see what record-setting senior BSU quarterback Amir Hall can do in his final year of eligibility. Hall is coming off a year that saw him throw for over 3,500 yards and 41 TDs.

Come Saturday another 29 games are on the schedule.

No. 1 N. C. A&T, fresh off giving new coach Sam Washington his first victory as the Aggies’ head man has another tough test on the road at East Carolina (6 p.m.), an FBS member from the American Athletic Conference.

The Aggies, who should move up from their 14th ranking in both the FCS STATS and Coaches polls, must do better than the 148 total yards they mustered on offense vs. Jacksonville State to get by ECU.

Look for A&T’s big offensive weapons – quarterback Lamar Raynard, the MEAC preseason Player of the Year who passed for just 111 yards vs. JSU, 1,000-yard rusher Marquell Cartwright, held to 58 rushing yards on 25 carries and Elijah Bell, who had just two catches for six yards – to bounce back.

BCSP No. 2 Grambling State, the two-time defending SWAC champ, opens the season on the road (6 p.m.) at Louisiana-Lafayette.

The big question for the G-Men is who will replace departed quarterback Devante Kincade, the back-to-back SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, holdover Geremy Hickbottom or herald- ed Arkansas State transfer Aldon Clark.

Howard, the surprise team of the 2017 sea- son finishing in a tie for second in the MEAC with Bethune-Cookman in its first year under head coach Mile London, opens at No 3 in the BCSP Top Ten, and travels to Athens, Ohio to take on Ohio University (2 p.m.).

All eyes will be on the young Bison squad, particularly sophomore quarterback Caylin Newton who was sensational as a freshman. Howard showed its mettle early in 2017 opening with a stunning upset at UNLV.

BCSP No. 4 Alcorn State travels to Atlanta to face ACC member Georgia Tech in its opener (12:30 p.m.). The Braves are moving on from veteran quarterback Lenorris Footman and will look for quarterback Noah Johnson and SWAC preseason Player of the Year, running back P. J. Simmons to lead the offense.

Prairie View, one game into new head coach Eric Dooley’s era, is set to face BCSP No. 6 North Carolina Central in Sunday’s 14th MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Atlanta (12 noon on ESPN2). NCCU will be breaking in a new interim head coach of its own in Granville Eastman who is replacing Jerry Mack.

No. 7 Bethune-Cookman begins life without departed quarterback Larry Brihm, when it faces Tennessee State on the road Saturday in Nashville at 6 p.m. in the John Merritt Classic.

Southern, ninth in our initial ranking, plays in first opener in four years without graduated QB Austin Howard. The Jaguars travel to Fort Worth, Tx. to face TCU Saturday (11 a.m.).

Surprise No. 10 Benedict, the BCSP preseason pick to take its first SIAC crown, opens at home vs. Florida Tech (6 p.m.)

Also, among this week’s fare are three SWAC vs. SIAC games. Alabama State and Tuskegee renew their rivalry at the 2nd Labor Day Classic in Montgomery, Alabama (5 p.m.), Arkansas-Pine Bluff of the SWAC hosts Morehouse of the SIAC (6 p.m.) and Alabama A&M hosts Miles in another 6 p.m. tilt.

Connell Maynor is the new A&M coach, Cedric Thomas is the new man at UAPB

Defending CIAA champ Virginia State has its traditional opening Labor Day Classic match with MEAC member Norfolk State (6 p.m.). The Trojans began an undefeated regular season last year with a win over Spartans.

Another HBCU cross-conference matchup has Florida A&M hosting Fort Valley State in the Jake Gaither Classic in Tallahassee (5 p.m.). Former Prairie View head coach Willie Simmons will be coaching his first game for FAMU.

Another intriguing game has Hampton playing its first game as a non-MEAC member as the Pirates host Shaw of the CIAA. The Pi- rates’ new head coach is Robert Prunty.

New head coaches also debut this week in games involving Virginia Union (Dr. Alvin Parker), Morgan State (Ernest Jones) and Delaware State (Rod Milstead).