Oh wow! Even though the official start to the 2021 college football season started last weekend, it’s been well over 600 days since we’ve had a full slate of FCS-level HBCU Football, and I can’t wait.
New teams in new conferences, new head coaches on new teams, not-so-new coaches that are still in their first season (technically), and a new champion will be crowned in Atlanta.
But before we get to Atlanta, we must start at Week One, and I’ll be predicting games throughout the entire season.
Yes, I’m 0-1 so far this season (thanks, North Carolina Central). It’s fine.
Howard, Morgan State, Norfolk State, and Southern will be facing tough out-of-conference opponents this weekend, so I won’t predict those matchups, but I will take a crack at these ten games.
I’m back to making picks! Let’s go!
FCS vs. FCS Non-Conference Games
South Carolina State vs. Alabama A&M, Saturday, 7:00 PM
Round 2 of what both coaches will hope to be a three-round bout between these programs in 2021. In their first matchup, both teams turned the ball over a combined eight times. Unfortunately, SCSU could not capitalize on SCSU DB Decobie Durant picking off AAMU QB Aqeel Glass three times. It didn’t help that SCSU gave up the ball five times themselves while Glass picked their defense apart for 272 passing yards and four TDs in a 31-7 rout. Fun fact: Glass has thrown for four touchdowns in AAMU’s last two season openers.
Alabama A&M 31, South Carolina State 24
Grambling State vs. Tennessee State, Sunday, 4:00 P.M. (NFL Network)
Welcome to the coaching ranks, Eddie George. You and your coaching staff will be looked upon to turn around a fabled program that has averaged three wins over the last three seasons. Your first opponent is a program that TSU has a legendary rivalry with, Grambling. Oh, your first game will be played at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and will air on national television. No pressure. It might help if the team they were facing this Sunday just happens to be on a five-game losing streak that dates back to November 2019. Wait a minute, GSU IS on a five-game losing streak?!
Tennessee State 24, Grambling State 21
North Carolina A&T vs. Furman, Saturday, 2:00 PM (ESPN3)
It’s going to be “Strength vs. Strength” when these two teams that participated in the postseason in 2019 face-off on Saturday. Known for their triple-option, Furman averaged 158.7 yards of rushing offense this spring. The last time the Aggies took the field, they allowed 79.9 yards on the ground. RB Jah-Maine Martin (1,446 rush yards, 23 TDs) will look to exploit a Paladins defense that gave up 127.1 yards rushing per game.
Aggies 20, Paladins 17
Virginia Union vs. Hampton, Saturday, 6:00 PM (ESPN+)
When they played two years ago, DII Virginia Union upset the Pirates 36-17. Good news, former VUU RB Tabyus Taylor (25 carries, 159 yards in 2019) won’t be coming to Hampton on Saturday. Bad news, Panther QB Khalid Morris will. Morris tallied 210 yards of total offense and scored four touchdowns. Dare I say, “Upset Alert”?
Panthers 23, Pirates 20
Bowie State vs. Delaware State, Saturday 4:00 P.M. (ESPN+)
The Hornets will welcome the Back-To-Back CIAA Champs to Dover. If DSU head coach Rod Milstead doesn’t want to hear the “Upset Alert” this weekend, QB Jared Lewis and WR Trey Gross will have to figure out how to exploit a Bulldog defense, led by DE Joshua Pryor, that allowed a conference-best 15.6 PPG.
Bulldogs 17, Hornets 14
Miles vs. Alabama State, Saturday, 6:00 PM
The Back-To-Back SIAC Champs have had a hard time with SWAC opponents in recent years, going 0-4 from 2015 to 2018 and getting outscored by an average of almost 30 PPG. One of those losses was a 53-20 drubbing by ASU. Let’s see if the SIAC’s second-best rush defense (104.2 RYPG) can slow down the SWAC’s leading rusher, RB Ezra Gray.
Hornets 35, Golden Bears 17
Lane vs. UAPB, Saturday, 7:00 PM
Coach Doc Gamble is looking to prove the doubters wrong by repeating as the SWAC’s West Division champion. Step one: With the help of QB Skylar Perry and WR Tyrin Ralph, take advantage of a DII program that is 0-3 against FCS programs in their last three attempts while being outscored 120-46.
Golden Lions 30, Lane 12
Prairie View A&M vs. Texas Southern, Saturday, 8:00 PM (ESPN+)
Even though the Panthers have won their last six meetings against TSU, Coach Eric Dooley would need a last-minute four-yard touchdown run by RB Kristian Mosley to eke out a 20-19 nail bitter. Outside of Preseason All-SWAC selection DE Michael Badejo, the Tigers – who are on a thirteen-game losing streak within the SWAC – are rebuilding … again.
Panthers 21, Tigers 10
Bethune-Cookman vs. UTEP, Saturday, 9:00 PM (ESPN3)
UTEP QB Gavin Hardison (249 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT) and WR Jacob Cowing (158 YDS, 1 TD) had career games in their 30-3 win over New Mexico State last weekend. The Wildcats, who opted out of spring play, will have to find a way to slow down the Miners, who returning 19 of their 22 starters. But Sam Herder thinks that this could be one of the FCS upsets over FBS programs. If so, this will be the first such win for a SWAC school since 1985.
Wildcats 24, Miners 21
Florida A&M v. Jackson State, Sunday, 3:00 P.M. (ESPN2)
Welcome to the SWAC, Rattlers! Their welcoming committee, the highest-ranked recruiting class in the FCS this year, and two First-Team Preseason All-SWAC defenders in LBs Keonte Hampton and Aubrey Miller, Jr. Don’t worry. The FAMU fanbase will welcome the Tigers to South Florida by making things as unpleasant as possible for JSU in the stands, while Willie Simmons’ “reloaded” offense – led by WR Xavier Smith – attempts to take advantage of a Tiger defense that gave up the most passing TDs in the SWAC this spring.
Rattlers 30, Tigers 28