Return to Front Page
Move over HCs, rivalries seize the stage
After 11 homecoming games were contested last weekend, another 13 homecomings are on tap this weekend. But a greater focus around the black college football landscape this week may be on some fierce, traditional rivalries that will have major impacts on how conference races play out this season.
Down in Alabama, BCSP No. 1 and defending SIAC and black college national champion Tuskegee (6-0, 5-0) puts its perfect mark this season and 22-game winning streak over the last three seasons on the line against conference nemesis Albany State (5-1, 4-1).
In the MEAC, league co-leader Hampton (4-1, 3-0), trying to claw its way back to the top of that league's food chain, does battle with cross-Chesapeake Bay rival Norfolk State (2-4, 1-2), one of the teams most responsible a year ago for ending the Pirates three-year stranglehold on the title.
And in the CIAA, longtime I-95 rivals Virginia Union (5-2, 3-1) and Virginia State (3-4, 2-2) tangle at VUU's homecoming in an East Division match-up that will help determine who will challenge division leader Elizabeth City State over the last month of the regular season.
When it comes to dominance, no two teams have ruled black college conference titles over the past 15 years like Tuskegee and Albany State in the SIAC. And as to series records, it gets no tighter than the TU/ASU match-up.
The two teams have won every SIAC title this decade with Tuskegee taking five, including the last two, and Albany State winning three. Since 2000, whichever team wins their annual throwdown wins the title. Tuskegee won the grudge match and the crown in 2000, '01, '02, '06 and '07 with ASU taking three straight games and titles between 2003 and 2005. The two actually shared the '06 title.
Albany State had a run of five straight titles from 1993 thru 1997 meaning since '93, Albany State (8.5) and Tuskegee (5.5) have won 14 of the 15 SIAC championships. Fort Valley State won the crown in '99.
Albany State holds a one-game lead in the series (18-17-1) entering Saturday's 1 p.m. showdown.
Last year Tuskegee prevailed 40-28 en route to its perfect 12-0 season, SIAC and black college national titles. The Golden Rams may be, and have been, the only team standing in the way of a repeat performance by the Golden Tigers.
In another key SIAC traditional rivalry, close Atlanta neighbors Clark Atlanta (4-3, 3-2) and Morehouse (3-3, 3-2) tangle at CAU.
In recent years, the Hampton/Norfolk State pairing (23-21-1, NSU) has been a one-sided rivalry in Hampton's favor until the upstart Spartans knocked off the three-time defending MEAC champs in a 20-19 thriller a year ago. It was the first NSU victory in the series since 2001 and helped propel the Spartans to an unprecedented second-place finish in the conference and to their highest conference win total (6) since joining the league a decade ago.
Things have changed a bit at Hampton with Jerry Holmes replacing 16-year head coach Joe Taylor, but the winning tradition has remained. This should be another barn-burner.
Catching the Panthers
Virginia Union and Virginia State are separated by just 30-odd miles on I-95, but in terms of recent titles and being in championship contention they're miles apart. VUU won its last CIAA crown in 2001 but won East Division crowns and played in title games in 2000, 2003 and last season. VSU's last titles came with back-to-back crowns in 1995 and '96. The Trojans last played in the title game in 1988. VUU is back in the thick of things this year while VSU can spoil its chances and its homecoming at Saturday's affair.
© 2008 Azeez Communications, Inc.