BASN’s HBCU Game Of The Week: (2) Grambling State at (3) Alabama A&M

By Tony McClean
Updated: September 8, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — For the second straight week, the No. 2 Grambling State Tigers are facing another team from BASN’s Top 10. Saturday night, they’ll travel down Lewis Crews Stadium to meet the No. 3 Bulldogs of Alabama A&M in a key conference showdown.

It’s a rematch of last year’s SWAC Championship Game. Grambling dominated A&M 89-6 in their two games last year, winning 44-0 in the season’s second week and 45-6 in the title game.

However, the Tigers are still licking their wounds following a 27-26 overtime loss to top-ranked Hampton at the MEAC-SWAC Challenge in Birmingham. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 27-20 victory over Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic at Nashville.

In another key contest matching teams from BASN’s Top 10, No. 7 Mississippi Valley State will visit Baton Rouge to battle No. 5 Southern. The Delta Devils defeated the Jaguars last season for the first time in 11 seasons behind QB Aries Nelson’s career-high 343 passing yards.

However, SU has a hot QB of their own entering Saturday’s contest. J.C. Lewis completed 63 percent of his passes (24-for-38) for 271 yards and four touchdowns last week as the Jaguars came from behind to defeat Bethune-Cookman 30-29 in the Gateway Classic at Jacksonville.

OTHER GAMES HOWARD at (1) HAMPTON, 6 pm In last year’s “Battle For Real HU”, the Pirates had to overcome a 12-point deficit to outlast the pesky Bison. Hampton has won the last nine straight match ups and under Joe Taylor, they’re 11-3 in home openers. In fact, you have to go back to the 1996 Urban League Classic (26-7) to find the last time the Bison prevailed over the Pirates. Senior wide out Marquay McDaniel notched his second career 100-yard game in last week’s win against Grambling State.

MILES at (4) TUSKEGEE, 1 pm The Golden Bowl is back as the Golden Bears and the Golden Tigers get set for another classic battle for the Alabama Crown. Miles is looking to bounce back as they were embarrassed after cross town rival Samford. Tuskegee is coming off a victory over Stillman College almost two weeks ago on national TV. QB Kevin Huff was impressive as he showed why he is was BASN’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Miles will have to withstand the early attack by TU and settle down and play great defense to close down the passing lanes Huff.

(6) S.C. STATE at WINSTON-SALEM STATE, 6 pm Two teams headed in opposite directions meet at Bowman Gray Stadium. The Rams are coming off a 41-14 drubbing of North Carolina A&T at the Aggies’ home. The win earned WSSU head coach Kermit Blount (a former SCSU assistant under the legendary Willie Jefferies) a contract extension. The Bulldogs, who won last year’s meeting with the Rams 52-12, were beaten at home last Saturday by Wofford. SCSU hasn’t defeated a Southern Conference school since 1997.

LENOIR-RHYNE at (8) N.C. CENTRAL, 4 pm Last season, NCCU escaped Hickory with a 28-21 overtime win. The win helped catapult the Eagles to their #2 seed in the NCAA Playoffs. This season, NCCU will be the prohibitive home favorite against LRC. RB Greg Pruitt will be difficult to handle for the Bears. In its last contest, LRC held off a game Livingstone squad 17-14. However, the offensive firepower of NCCU will be an even greater challenge with receivers Julius McClellan and Charles Futrell on the perimeter. This game has been designated a conference contest for the Eagles and will give them a firm grip of the Western Division lead going into their bye week.

ST. FRANCIS (Pa.) at (10) DELAWARE STATE, 7 pm Fresh off their 34-14 defeat of FAMU, the Hornets open their home schedule against the Red Flash. DSU is seeking its second straight 2-0 start, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 1985-86. Al Lavan’s squad has also won three straight and six of their last seven dating back to last season. St. Francis defeated St. Peter’s 38-3 last week, winning their first opener since 1996. Saturday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between the schools.

OTHER GAMES OF NOTE FORT VALLEY STATE at VALDOSTA STATE, 7 pm Fort Valley State is looking to show that they are for real as they set up to play one of the toughest teams in Division II. Valdosta State is looking to go 2-0 against the SIAC as they put down Albany State last week. This game will be an emotional one as VSU QB is Willie Copeland faces his former team. Copeland was 29-of-48 with 2 TDs last week. Fort Valley State is coming off a victory against Morehouse that saw Fort Valley get their ground attack going rushing for 274 yards. Look for another close game as both teams will get up for another inter state rivalry and another TV/Internet game on the national level. Tune in to to watch the game live from Valdosta, Ga.

BOWIE STATE at J.C. SMITH, 6 pm After suffering the nation’s longest losing streak, JCSU has broken out with a two-game win streak. Last weekend’s win over Glenville State was improbable for a couple of reasons. First, Glenville State was 9-2 in ‘05 and second, the Pioneers handled JCSU 33-9 in Charlotte last season. However, this season, the Golden Bull Offense is more potent. Quarterbacks Carlton Richardson and Donja Goodson have revived the JCSU passing attack. WR Marquis Belton is also emerging as one of the conference’s best with two touchdown catches early in ‘06. Charlotte will be buzzing this weekend with CIAA favorite Bowie State coming to town. BSU won its opener easily against West Virginia State, 38-0, but will face a fired up, partisan crowd in Charlotte.

NOTE: No. 9 Jackson State is idle this week.