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MEAC 1 vs. 2 showdown arrives
Since the 2009 season began everybody's been waiting for the South Carolina State/Florida A&M game. Well, now it's here. Saturday in Orangeburg, S.C. at 2 p.m., the two most talked about, highly ranked and talented black college teams tee it up with a bevy of developments hinging on the outcome.
SCSU and FAMU have identical overall (4-1) and MEAC (2-0) records headed into their showdown. Both teams' losses came against Div. I BCS opponents. SCSU lost 38-14 to South Carolina two weeks ago while FAMU lost to #11 Miami, 48-16 Saturday.
They are ranked either first or second in every black college poll. They are the only FCS black college teams ranked nationally with SC State 11th and FAMU 22nd in the Sports Network Top 25.
SCSU was picked first and FAMU second in the preseason MEAC coaches' poll and they are currently tied atop the MEAC standings with Morgan State (4-1, 2-0), who hosts Howard (2-3, 0-2) Thursday in a game to be carried live on ESPNU.
So the outcome will determine everything from national rankings to conference positioning headed into the final five weeks of the regular season.
FAMU (30.0 ppg.) and SC State (27.6 ppg.) are the highest scoring teams in the MEAC and each has a slew of individual performers at the top of statistical categories.
FAMU QB Curtis Pulley leads the league in passing (198 ypg.) and total offense (272.4 ypg.) with SCSU QB Malcolm Long second in passing yards (173.8 ypg.) and third in total offense. SCSU WR/KR Oliver "Tre" Young leads the MEAC in receptions (5.0 rpg.) and receiving yards (69.2 ypg.). FAMU receivers Isaac West (3.6 rpg., 68.4 ypg.) and Kevin Elliot (4.2 rpg., 62.2 ypg.) are just behind Young in both categories. SCSU RB William Ford (76.6 ypg.) is just ahead of Pulley (74.4 ypg.) in rushing stats.
Though the teams are pretty evenly matched, head coach Buddy Pough of defending MEAC champion SC State, says he's like to see anything but a low-scoring game.
"I'll be honest with you, I hate going to a 7-6 ballgame," said a candid Pough. "I don't want to play in it, I don't want to be a part of it, I don't want to be around it. Heck, I'm trying to sell tickets here. We're trying to fill our stadium, and they want to see the ball flying and scoring, that kind of stuff. I'd like to see both teams score and it be one of those high-scoring affairs where everybody's on the edge of their seats for the entire game. That'd be great!"
FAMU second-year head coach Joe Taylor is not so sure.
"SC State has a real strong defense," said Taylor. "Of course, everybody knows if you're winning consistently it's because you're playing defense. Both defense are well ranked in terms of the stats. I don't see either defense giving up a lot of points. So, I don't see a shootout in my mind."
In other games involving conference leaders, CIAA East leader Bowie State (5-2, 4-0 CIAA) hosts St. Paul's (3-3, 2-2) for homecoming. CIAA West leader Fayetteville State (4-3, 3-1) is at Johnson C. Smith. SIAC leader Albany State (6-0, 5-0) is at Clark Atlanta (3-3, 2-3). Alcorn State and Alabama A&M, tied for the SWAC East lead with 1-1 records, meet at Alcorn State.
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