Don’t blink! There’s action every week


Who said you get a week off, to relax? Not here. Not this year in HBCU football.

The sorting out of the East and West Division races in the SWAC takes another turn this week with some critical games.

In the West Thursday (6:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU), new division member and former six-time East Division champ Alcorn State (1- 2) travels for its first date as a West Division member at spring 2021 division champion Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-1). Needless to say, both teams have title aspirations.

It will be the first conference or division game for both teams and a match up of talented left-handed signal callers as UAPB’s Skyler Perry goes up against Alcorn State’s Felix Harper.

It will also match two head coaches, Alcorn State’s Fred McNair and UAPB’s Doc Gamble, who were both assistants at Alcorn in 2012.

“He’s a hard-working coach,” McNair said of Gamble. “He’s going to make sure his team is prepared for this conference opening.”

“They’re another good football team,” said Gamble about Alcorn State. “They’ll be well- coached, stout on defense, good on special teams, good on offense. We’ll have to shore up some things on our end.”

Also in the West Saturday, Grambling State (1-2) goes up against Prairie View A&M (2-1) at the State Fair Classic in Dallas (4 p.m. CT) matching another two coaches with great familiarity with each other – Grambling’s Broderick Fobbs and PV A&M’s Eric Dooley.

Before taking over at PV in 2018, Dooley spent four years as Fobbs’ offensive coordinator. Since taking over at PV, Dooley has won all three meetings against his former boss and team.

This year Dooley has brought in a new quarterback with a hot hand, 6-4, 220-pound Louisville transfer, senior Jawan Pass.

Pass has thrown for nearly 300 yards per game (898) and six touchdowns, topping the 300-yard mark in each of the Panthers’ wins with a combined five TD tosses. Between those two wins, he was picked off three times in a loss to Incarnate Word.

Fobbs has meanwhile played junior quarterbacks Aldon Clark and Elijah Walker almost equally while searching for one to take charge of the job. They have combined to pass for just 182 yards and one TD in three games. Grambling’s biggest job, it seems, will be to slow down Pass.

In an early season East Division battle, Alabama State (1-1) hosts Bethune-Cookman (0-3, 0-1) at 5 p.m. CT Saturday (on ESPN+). B-CU is coming off a close 30-27 loss to defending E. Div. champion Alabama A&M last Thursday.

Only one other game involves two SWAC schools and that’s Southern (1-2) facing Mississippi Valley State (0-2) in Jackson, Ms. Sunday (2 p.m. CT).

In non-conference action, Jackson Sate (2- 1) has its home opener Saturday vs. Div. II Delta State (2 p.m. CT) and Alabama A&M (2-0) puts its unbeaten record on the line vs. Tuskegee (1-2) in Mobile, Al. (4 p.m. CT).

The Mid Eastern Athletic Conference is in the middle of its six-game non-conference schedule before it goes down the stretch with league play.

The most watched outcome this week will likely be Saturday’s match up of fierce old MEAC and CIAA rivals N. C. Central and N. C. A&T in Greensboro (6 p.m. ET).

The schools are separated by just 45 miles on I-85 and have a rivalry as intense as any in HBCU football. Two years ago A&T handed NCCU, in its first year under head coach Trei Oliver, the worst beating in the history of the series, 54-0 in Greensboro.

It’s not a whipping that Oliver or the Eagles are likely to forget. NCCU comes in at 2-1 while NC A&T (0-2), who has shifted to the Big South Conference, is looking for its first win.

It will be intense.

Elsewhere in games involving MEAC teams, Delaware State (1-2) is hosting (2 p.m. ET on ESPN+) Merrimack, Norfolk State (1-2) is at St. Francis and Howard (0-2) is at Robert Morris in 12 noon starts.

Most of the CIAA games are inter- conference tussles between North Division and South Division teams with teams from the South playing as hosts.

Virginia State (0-2) plays at (1-1) Fayetteville State, 2-1 Bowie State is at 0-3 12n ET 12n ET 12n ET

Livingstone, Elizabeth City State (0-3) is at Winston-Salem State (0-2, Virginia Union (1- 2) is at J. C. Smith (0-2) and Chowan (3-0) is at St. Augustine’s (0-1).

The only N. Div. team playing at home is Lincoln (Pa.) (0-3) hosting Shaw (1-2). Check GAMES THIS WEEK for start times.

The SIAC has a mixture of inter- and intra- divisional games.

Morehouse (0-3) plays at Savannah State (2-1) and Clark Atlanta (1-2) is at Albany State (2-1) in E. Div. games. Miles (1-2) entertains Central State (1-2, 0-1 W) in a West Division contest.

In other SIAC match-ups Benedict (2-1) plays Kentucky State (1-2) in Indianapolis, Lane (2-1, 1-0 W) plays at Edward Waters (1- 2).

Tennessee State 1-2) (has its first Ohio Valley Conference game Saturday (2 p.m. CT) at (0-3) SE Missouri.