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Your BASN Guide To HBCU Football: Week 12
By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN (BASN) — Now that championship hardware has been handed out by the CIAA and SIAC, this weekend marks the second phase of Championship Saturday in HBCU football.
We congratulate Winston-Salem State and Tuskegee for advancing to the Division II Playoffs while sending a huge shout out to Fort Valley State for winning their first SIAC crown since 1999 in a double overtime thriller.
This week, our focus shifts to the MEAC as they crown their champion and complete the first piece to next month’s Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. And what a battle it should be.
The outright MEAC title is on the line between two of the most heated rivals in the country, N.C. A&T and N.C. Central. For the first time in three seasons, there will be an outright champion in the MEAC.
This will be the first matchup between the two heated rivals where both teams are nationally ranked. The winner will get a bid to the second annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.
The loser will have to wait until Sunday at 11 a.m., to see if they will be selected as a NCAA FCS playoff team. The Aggies come into the game having won nine straight road games in MEAC play.
Their last loss on the road in MEAC play came to NCCU in 2014 at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium. The Aggies, winners of seven straight games, have won their games this season by an average of 23.9 points. NCCU has run off eight straight this season and they have not lost a MEAC game since Oct. 3, 2015, a string of 14 straight victories.
This will be the 88th Aggie-Eagle Classic. The previous 87 games have been decided by an average of 14 points. When they have played on the same level (NCCU played Division II from 1980-2006), the average margin of victory is 11 points.
The average margin of victory since 2007, when NCCU returned to the Division I-FCS level, the average margin of victory is 8.7. with two overtime games thrown in. In the 87 games they’ve played, 38 have been decided by a touchdown or less. Six games have been decided by one point.
The game has gone into overtime six times since 1994. The game, slated for a 2:00 pm ET start, can be seen live on ESPN3/Watch ESPN. It will also be shown on a tape-delayed basis Saturday night at 10:30 pm ET.
As T.O. would say, “Get your popcorn ready!!!!!”
N.C. A&T running back Tarik Cohen only needs 33 yards to become only the second player in HBCU college football history to go over 5,500 rushing yards in a career. Who was the first?
With Jackson State’s loss to Alabama A&M last weekend, Alcorn State (4-5) has clinched the Eastern Division title and will be headed to the SWAC Championship Game for the third straight season.
The Braves will become the first team since the 1999-2001 Grambling squad to make three straight trips to the SWAC Championship game since the game’s inception.
For what it’s worth, Grambling won each of their consecutive trips. Alcorn State will attempt to match the Tigers efforts on December 3rd in Houston. This weekend, they’ll travel to Jackson State (3-7) in their regular-season finale.
As for GSU, they remained tied with Southern for the top spot in the Western Division — both are 7-0. If both team’s win this weekend, then next week’s Bayou Classic will be for the division crown and a trip to Houston.
The Jaguars (7-2) will be hosting Mississippi Valley State (1-9). This game pits strength on strength, as the Jaguars specialize in taking care of the ball as evidenced by their nation-leading + 1.56 turnover margin per game.
That’ll be put to the test by MVSU’s secondary, which has some ball hawks as evidenced by their 11 picks this year, good for second in the conference. The Tigers will travel to Houston to meet Texas Southern in TSU’s season finale.
Winston-Salem State’s Richard Huntley ended his college career with 6,286 rushing yards. He’s one of only nine players in NCAA history to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of their four seasons, including a WSSU record 1,889 yards as a senior in 1995.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.