LUT WILLIAMS, BCSP Editor
There are nationally-ranked teams in all four HBCU conferences as play moves into Week Four of the 2022 season.
At 3-0, Virginia Union is the ranked team in the CIAA as the Trojans get ready to travel to 2-1 Fayetteville State Saturday (4 p.m.).
The Panthers, after a big win over nationally-ranked Valdosta State two weeks ago, moved into Div. II polls after their 42-6 win over Livingstone Saturday.
VUU is 22nd in the AFCA poll and 20th in the D2football.com poll. It’s the first time Dr. Alvin Parker’s Panthers have been ranked since 2019.
The game against FSU Saturday could certainly be a preview of the Nov. 12 CIAA Championship Game in November. FSU is the four-time defending CIAA South Division champ and appears ready to make it five in a row. With three-time North Division and league champion Bowie State sitting at 1-2, VUU looks to be the North Division favorite.
The teams did not meet in 2021.
The player to watch is Div. II rushing leader Jada Byers of VUU. Byers currently leads D2 in rushing yards (616) and rushing yards per game (205.3). He is tied with teammate Curtis Allen and Jesse Sherwood of Southeast Minnesota State for the lead in rushing touchdowns with six.
Elsewhere in CIAA inter-divisional play Saturday Lincoln is at JC Smith (12 noon), Elizabeth City State visits Shaw and Bowie State visits St. Augustine’s (1 p.m.), Virginia State plays at Livingstone (4 p.m.) and Chowan entertains Winston-Salem State (6 p.m.).
Jackson State stayed at 11th in the AFCA and STATS Perform national FCS polls despite its blowout 66-24 home win over Grambling State Saturday.
JSU quarterback Shedeur Sanders threw or 359 yards and four TDs in the win. Three of the scoring throws went to wideout Dallas Daniels, a Western Illinois transfer. Delaware State transfer running back Sy’veon Wilkerson had 141 rushing yards and two TDs for the Tigers.
JSU stays home this week to face Mississippi Valley State (1 p.m., ESPN+). Grambling State travels to Bethune-Cookman (2 p.m., ESPN+), Prairie View A&M visits Alabama State (5 p.m.), Alabama A&M is at Florida A&M (6 p.m., ESPN+) and Alcorn State entertains Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6 p.m., ESPN+).
North Carolina Central (3-0), led by QB Davius Richard’s two rushing TD and a passing TD, vaulted into the FCS Top 25 after knocking off New Hampshire 45-27, who was in the Top 25 last week. NCCU debuts at No. 25 in the STATS Perform poll but did not get into the Coaches poll.
The Eagles have perhaps their weakest opponent so far as they host winless Virginia- Lynchburg Saturday (4 p.m., ESPN+). Non- conference action in the MEAC also has Delaware State hosting Merrimack and Norfolk State hosting Saint Francis (on ESPN+) both at 2 p.m. Defending conference champ S. C. State plays at N. C. A&T at 7 p.m. (on ESPN+).
Albany State (2-1), with its only loss to Florida A&M, is 17th in the D2 poll and 20th in the AFCA poll.
In its 42-20 win over Shorter last week, QB Dionte Bonneau threw for 248 yards and two scores while RB Marcus Fulks ran for 117 yards and a TD. The Golden Rams play at Clark Atlanta Saturday (6 p.m., ESPN+).
In other SIAC games, Miles is at Central State (12 noon), Allen plays at Tuskegee (1 p.m.), Fort Valley State is at Bluefield State (1 p.m.), Edward Waters is at Lane and Savannah State is at Morehouse at 2 p.m., and Kentucky State is at 3-0 Benedict at 6 p.m.
Hampton is not ranked but is 3-0 headed into its date at 3-0 Delaware (6 p.m.). Langston is 3-0 as it plays at Arkansas Baptist (7 p.m.) Saturday.