SIAC, SWAC, CIAA West leaders square off
After last week's loss by Virginia Union, the only undefeated team left in black college football is 6-0 Tuskegee (5-0 SIAC) who heads into its annual showdown battle with four-time defending SIAC champ Albany State (6-1, 4-0) in Albany, Ga. Saturday (7 p.m.) with the SIAC lead up for grabs.
The TU/ASU battle in just one of three games on tap this weekend matching teams at the top of their respective standings.
In Jackson, Ms., Saturday at 12 noon, Jackson State (4-2, 4-0 E), sitting atop the SWAC's East Division, hosts Grambling State (5-1, 5-0), who now boasts a two-game lead in the SWAC West, in what could be a preview of the Dec. 15 SWAC Championship Game.
Also Saturday in Fayetteville, N.C., CIAA West Division leaders Shaw (5-2, 2-0 E) and Fayetteville State (2-5, 2-0 E) do battle at 2 p.m. at the homecoming game for the Broncos. The winner of that game will take over the division lead with just one division game left.
The edge in the Tuskegee/Albany State matchup would have to go to head coach Willie Slater's Tuskegee squad who is sporting the league's best offense (38.0 points per game) and defense (7.2 ppg.) and is at the top of just about every offensive and defensive category. The Golden Tigers are led on offense by QB Jacary Atkinson, the SIAC passing (212 ypg.) and total offense leader. Expect ASU to exploit its SIAC-best rushing attack (230 ypg.) to keep the explosive TU offense off the field. The Golden Rams have three running backs Lironne Davis (62 ypg., 4 TDs, Brian Porter (47.8 ypg., 4 TDs) and Demetrius Johnson (47.7 ypg., 5 TDs) among the league's top rushers.
PREDICTION: Tuskegee by 10.
Both Jackson State and Grambling ride four-game win streaks and similar profiles into their key SWAC match-up at Jackson.
They are 2-3 behind Alabama A&M in scoring offense and flip-flop positions behind Prairie View in scoring defense. Both sport quality quarterbacks in JSU's Jimmy Oliver (156 passing ypg., 7 TDs, 5 ints.) and GSU's Brandon Landers (211 passing ypg., 11 TDs, 6 ints.) and have standout running backs in JSU junior Erik Haw (91.8 ypg., 5 TDs) and GSU's freshman tandem of Cornelius Walker (50.8 ypg., 2 TDs) and Frank Warren (88.0 ypg., 2 TDs). GSU senior Reginald Jackson (league best 39 receptions) teams with fellow senior Clyde Edwards (27 rec., 7 TDs) to give GSU a double threat at wideout. JSU wideout Jaymar Johnson (12 rec., 3 TDs) is also among the league leaders in punt returns (13.2 ypr., 1 TD). PREDICTION: Grambling by 10
Shaw is two one-point decisions (to Edward Waters and Morehouse) away from a perfect season and the Bears enter Saturday's homecoming at Fayetteville State on a four-game win streak. FSU, on the other hand, lost its first four games before winning two of its last three. Shaw is at or near the top in just about every statistical category including having the CIAA's most stingy defense (12.3 ppg.).
PREDICTION: Shaw by 10.
In other top games, Hampton (4-2, 3-2) entertains South Carolina State (3-3, 2-1) for homecoming in what could well be an MEAC title-elimination game. Both lost in successive weeks to the conference's surprise team, Norfolk State, and needs a win to keep alive their outside hopes that either NSU (5-1, 4-0) or Delaware State (5-1, 4-0) will falter. DSU entertains Morgan State (4-3, 3-1) for its homecoming (2 p.m.) while NSU travels to Tallahassee Thursday (7 p.m.) to take on Florida A&M (2-4, 1-3) in a game to be carried live on ESPNU.
Delaware State is up to 15th in the latest Sports Network FCS poll while Norfolk State made its first appearance ever at 25th.
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