LUT WILLIAMS BCSP Editor
When the smoke cleared Saturday, there were football champions crowned in three HBCU conferences – one of whom claimed a berth in a bowl game – and one divisional winner.
There are still a few matters to be determined that include another division winner, a non-HBCU conference champion and possible FCS playoff berths. Some of those decisions may take a while longer to sort out.
Let’s start with those things already determined.
CIAA and SIAC
The CIAA and SIAC staged championship games Saturday with Fayetteville State of the CIAA and Benedict from the SIAC coming out with those titles (see Championship Game Recaps).
Both, along with CIAA member Virginia Union, were named Sunday to the 28-team NCAA Div. II national championship playoffs out of Super Region II
Undefeated Benedict (11-0) under second year head coach Chennis Berry is the top seed in the region and gets a first round bye from Saturday’s opening round games.
Benedict will host a second round game on Nov. 26 against the winner of fourth-seed Virginia Union (9-1) and fifth-seed Wingate (9- 2). VUU, led by head coach Dr. Alvin Parker, is hosting their game on campus Saturday (Nov. 19) at Hovey Field in Richmond, Va. (1 p.m.).
Fayetteville State (9-2), under sixth-year head coach Richard Hayes Jr., is seeded seventh in the region and will travel to Cleveland, Ms. to face 10-1 second-seed Delta State Saturday (1 p.m.).
The MEAC champion and its Dec. 20 Celebration Bowl representative was also determined Saturday. North Carolina Central won at Norfolk State 48-14 to clinch the MEAC title with a 4-1 conference record.
The win and conference title gives the Eagles and head coach Trei Oliver the spot opposite the SWAC champion in this year’s Celebration Bowl at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Dec. 17.
NCCU wraps up its regular season schedule Saturday (1:30 p.m.) with a non-conference date at 4-6 Tennessee Tech.
Jackson State (10-0, 7-0 E) wrapped up the SWAC East Division title and a berth hosting the Dec. 3 SWAC championship game with its 27-13 win over Alabama A&M Saturday.
The Tigers of head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders may have to wait a while to find out their opponent from the West Division in the league’s title game as others play their final regular season games.
Prairie View A&M (6-4) is 5-2 in the SWAC West and one game ahead of three others – Alcorn State, Southern and Texas Southern – who are all at 4-3 in league play. Prairie View plays at Mississippi Valley State (1-9, 1-6 E) Saturday (1 p.m.). If head coach Bubba McDowell’s Panthers prevail they will claim the West Division title and meet JSU in the Dec. 3 title game.
If the Panthers lose and any or all of the three others win, a dizzying crop of tie-breaking procedures go into effect. Those procedures begin with head-to-head competition, include records within the division and could end with a coin flip. Alcorn State and Southern have head- to-head wins over Prairie View this season.
Alcorn State closes its regular season hosting Jackson State Saturday in Lorman, Ms. (2 p.m.). Texas Southern’s finale is on the road against Alabama A&M (3-7, 3-4 E) Saturday (1 p.m.) in Huntsville, Al.
Southern is off this week and has its final regular season contest against Grambling State (3-7, 2-5 W) on Nov. 26 at the Caesar’s Super Dome in New Orleans (1 p.m.) at the Bayou Classic.
Florida A&M (8-2, 6-1 E) is a game behind Jackson State in the SWAC East. The Rattlers moved into the FCS Top 25 after their
hard fought 21-14 win over Alabama State Saturday. They are 24th in the AFCA FCS Coaches Poll and could be in line for an FCS playoff berth. The Rattlers and head coach Willie Simmons have their traditionally big season-ender Saturday in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium vs. rival Bethune-Cookman (2- 8, 2-5 E) at the Florida Classic. FAMU needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive.
North Carolina A&T (7-3, 4-0 Big South) won its seventh straight game with a 20-10 win over Charleston Southern Saturday to set up a showdown at Gardner-Webb (5-5, 4-0) this Saturday (1:30 p.m.) for the Big South Championship. The winner will also earn the conference’s automatic bid to the FCS national championship playoffs.
NC A&T decided to stay in the Big South for football this season to preserve the conference’s automatic bid while the rest of the Aggies’ programs moved to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).