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BASN Game Of The Week: No. 3 Elizabeth City State vs. No. 1 N.C. Central In The CIAA Championship Game
By Tony McClean
Updated: November 10, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — In one corner sits the undefeated and defending CIAA champions poised to become the first school since Fayetteville State (2002-03) to win back-to-back crowns.
In the other corner sits a team that has confounded the so-called “experts” all season with their play on both sides of the line. They’re seeking its first football title since the early seventies.
For the first time, two teams that finished undefeated in conference play (both 7-0) will battle for the CIAA Championship as No. 1 N.C. Central (10-0) hosts No. 3 Elizabeth City State (9-1) in Durham on Saturday afternoon.
This title tilt will not only decide who wins the league crown, but it will likely also have major implications regarding this year’s Division II playoff field and the participants in the Pioneer Bowl.
Entering Saturday’s game, the Eagles are third and the Falcons fourth in the Southeast Regional Division II Poll. Only six teams from the region will make the 24-team national tournament field that will compete for the Division II championship.
The playoff field will be announced this Sunday afternoon between 1-2 p.m. and will be unveiled on ESPNews. A loss by either NCCU or ECSU could theoretically knock either out of the top six and end their playoff hopes.
Another school that will have a vested interest in this game is Albany State. The Golden Rams (7-3), who clinched its fourth straight SIAC championship last week, are currently eighth in the poll and could conceivably move up following a loss by either team.
In other games Saturday:
(2) Hampton at (9) Florida A&M
In their final regular season contest, the Pirates (9-1, 6-1 MEAC) look to clinch their third straight MEAC crown and the automatic bid to the Division I-AA playoffs. However, they must do in Tallahassee against a Rattler squad (6-3, 4-2 MEAC) that has rebounded from a poor start by winning six of their last seven games including three straight. FAMU is the only MEAC school that has a winning record (6-3) against Hampton since they joined the league back in 1995.
(4) Delaware State at Norfolk State
Any outside chances the Hornets (7-2, 5-1 MEAC) have of winning a MEAC crown rest on the outcome of the aforementioned HU-FAMU tilt. Still, Delaware State is still hoping that there will be a postseason in their future. But they’ll have to take care of business on the field against a Spartan squad (3-6, 1-6 MEAC) that has lost five straight after a 3-1 start. On the other hand, DSU is riding a five-game winning streak — longest since a seven-game win streak in 2000.
(5) Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Southern
The Golden Lions (6-3, 5-2 SWAC) can clinch the Western Division crown and a berth in the SWAC Championship Game with a win at Baton Rouge. APBU has not won a SWAC title since 1966 when they shared the crown with Grambling, Texas Southern, and, ironically, the Jaguars. Despite its less than stellar record (4-5, 3-4), don’t look for Pete Richardson’s bunch to go gentle into that good night. Especially at Mumford Stadium where they are 3-0 in SWAC games this year.
Alcorn State at (6) Alabama A&M
Anthony Jones’ squad (7-2, 5-2 SWAC) still maintains on the inside track for a Eastern Division crown as they host Alcorn (4-4, 3-3 SWAC) at Louis Crews Stadium. A&M has gone 6-2 against the Braves since joining the SWAC. To make matters worse, ASU has never won at Huntsville. Clearly, the Bulldogs control their destiny. Two more wins and they’ll get to its second consecutive SWAC Championship Game – and its fourth since 2000.
(8) Lane College at (10) Tuskegee
The Dragons will also be interested parties in Saturday’s CIAA title game. Despite their record, LC begins the day on the outside looking in of a possible Division II playoff berth. However, Coach Cole has done a tremendous job of turning the team around from last year. It may not be enough to get them in the playoffs, but it bodes well for 2007. The Golden Tigers will also look to finish on a high note as well.