It’s November! Week 10. The final leg of the college football season. It’s win or go home. Except for Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Bethune-Cookman, and Morgan State, teams are still jockeying for position in what is their respective conference title race.
There are no byes, no games against FBS opponents and FCS HBCU Homecoming Season concludes in Durham and Prairie View in this week’s full slate of 12 games.
With my picks from last week, which includes my gaffe of picking Delaware State over Morgan State in Thursday Night’s matchup, I’m 7-5, which takes my overall record to 63-32 this year.
Wanna see who I picked this week? Well, let’s go.
Gardner-Webb (3-5, 1-3 Big South) vs. Hampton (3-5, 1-3 Big South)
Saturday, November 6, 1:00 (ESPN+)
Welp, last week I said to keep an eye out for Hampton QB Jett Duffey, and I was right. 371 yards of total offense and five rushing touchdowns from the senior signal-caller but ten unanswered points allowed by the Pirates defense in the final three minutes and Robert Morris wins by three.
This week, Coach Prunty’s bunch welcomes a Gardner-Webb team that lost a heartbreaker to Kennesaw State. GWU QB Bailey Fisher had his best passing yards outing of the season (31-for-48, 354 YDS, TD) against the best defense in the Big South, as the Bulldogs’ offensive exploded for 519 total yards. Look for GWU to attack the fifth-worst pass defense in the nation, but will the Bulldogs be able to slow down Hampton’s run game by committee that averages 4.6 yards per carry? GWU has allowed six of their opponents to rush for over 200 yards this season.
Bulldogs 20, Pirates 17
North Carolina A&T (3-5, 2-3) vs. Charleston Southern (3-4, 2-3)
Saturday, November 6, 1:00 PM (ESPN+)
The Aggies are streaking in the wrong direction.
A&T lost their first homecoming game last weekend since 2010, their seven-game home winning streak has been snapped, they are currently on their first three-game losing streak since 2013 and they have not scored a second-half point since the fourth quarter of the North Alabama game on Oct. 9.
When asked about this tough stretch, Coach Washington asked Aggie fans to “just bear with us” as the team continues to battle through injuries and inconsistent play.
Good news, the Aggies are returning to the I-78 to face Charleston Southern, where they defeated the Bucs back in 2019. Bad news, these Buccaneers aren’t those Buccaneers.
Unlike two years ago when A&T RB Jah-Maine Martin rushed for 299 yards against the Bucs, CSU is the thirteenth-best yards per carry defense in the nation, allowing 2.4 YPC (95.0 YPG) against conference opponents. It doesn’t help that Washington believes that Bucs QB Jack Chambers is “a concern.” The dual-threat signal-caller leads his team in both passing and rushing yards.
A&T could be leaving North Charleston with their losing streak extended to four games.
Buccaneers 24, Aggies 21
Howard (2-6, 1-2) vs. South Carolina State (4-4, 3-0)
Saturday, November 6, 1:30 PM (ESPN+)
Aww man. Remember when FAMU beat the breaks off SCSU a few weeks ago, making them 1-4 for the season? Welp, that was then. If Coach Pough can win out, the Bulldogs will be the MEAC representative in the Celebration Bowl.
SCSU quarterback Corey Fields, Jr., and running back Kendrell Flowers have been playing well in recent weeks. Fields has 655 total yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions during the Bulldogs’ current three-game winning streak while Flowers rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win. Howard allows 422.4 yards of total offense per game.
The Bison aren’t completely out of title talks themselves. Howard will need to go on a three-game win streak and get a little help to win at least a share of the MEAC championship.
This season, quarterback Quinton Williams has been the offensive standout for the bison but running back Ian Wheeler is developing into a major threat. Over the past two weeks, Wheeler has amassed 369 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
Bulldogs 24, Bison 20
Norfolk State (6-2, 2-0) vs. North Carolina Central (3-5, 1-1)
Saturday, November 6, 2:00 PM (ESPN3)
Former teammates become coaching rivals at their alma mater’s homecoming.
Dawson Odums and Trei Oliver were both defensive players for the Eagles back in the 1990s. Oliver was one of Odums’ assistant coaches when the two were at Southern. This week, they’ll face off as competitors when NSU becomes a homecoming opponent for the second time this season.
“We have another good team coming [into Durham],” says Oliver. The Spartans have won six-in-a-row for the first time since 1984. NCCU will look to make Norfolk State, which leads the MEAC in rushing and passing offense, one-dimensional.
Pick your poison. Last week, NSU QB Juwan Carter passed for 368 yards and three touchdowns while RB J.J. Davis accounted for 235 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. If the best scoring defense in the MEAC can make the Spartans linear on offense, the Eagles, who average 18.9 PPG, can’t continue to drop passes, they must improve in the run game – opponents have outrushed them an average of 64.25 YPG in their last four matchups — and figure out how to fix their recent kicking inconsistency.
Spartans 35, Eagles 20
Tennessee State (5-3, 3-1 OVC) vs. #11 UT Martin (7-1, 3-0 OVC)
Saturday, November 6, 3:00 PM (ESPN3)
If you were to have told me at the beginning of the season that this week’s UT Martin vs. Tennessee State matchup could decide the OVC championship, I wouldn’t believe you. TSU’s currently riding a four-game win streak, their longest since 2016. If the Tigers expect to win their fifth, something has to give on Saturday.
UTM and the conference’s best offense will put their five-game home win streak on the line when they face the OVC’s best defense.
The Skyhawks, who average 31.8 points and 414.2 yards per game, struggled to put up points in last week’s win with six starters out by game’s end. Hampered by injuries, UTM was held to a season-low 17 points. Conversely, the Tigers have allowed 14 PPG during their win streak. As UTM looks to get back on track offensively, they’ll try to disrupt Tennessee State’s signal-caller.
“[TSU] continues to get good quarterback play,” UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson said of Tiger QB Geremy Hickbottom. Last week’s OVC Offensive Player of the Week is continuing to get a better understanding of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s scheme. Hickbottom accounted for 246 yards of total offense and four touchdowns (three rushing) in last week’s 27-21 over Murray State.
“These are the games that you want to play in,” says TSU head coach Eddie George. “Against a top-ranked opponent, at their place, and in the conversation of competing for an OVC championship.”
Tigers 27, Skyhawks 24
Alcorn State (5-3, 4-1 SWAC) vs. Bethune-Cookman (0-8, 0-5 SWAC)
Saturday, November 6, Noon (ESPN+)
This is the seventh time this season Alcorn State has been on the road, thanks to their decision to opt-out of their Spring schedule.
Both teams are coming off tough losses, but the Braves are still in control of their potential postseason hopes.
Although the Wildcats are winless, they have kept a lot of their games competitive. Except for their 30-point drubbing to Jackson State last week, BCU’s point differential against their other FCS opponents is 7.2 PPG.
It would be nice if this Wildcats defense, which has forced 10 turnovers this year, can pressure Alcorn to make mistakes but the worst pass defense will need to slow down the 2019 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year.
Even in their loss to Southern last week, ASU quarterback Felix Harper piled up 284 total yards of offense (206 passing) and four passing touchdowns.
Braves 37, Wildcats 28
Texas Southern (2-5, 2-3) vs #17 Jackson State (6-1, 4-0)
Saturday, November 6, 2:00 PM (JSU Sports Network)
TSU was rather scrappy this last month, going 2-2 in October while totaling 1,990 yards of offense in their last four games. In their 52-17 shellacking of UAPB last week, freshman QB Andrew Body put up 392 total yards of offense and five total touchdowns. His performance earned him the Stats Perform FCS National and SWAC Player of the Week awards.
“[Body’s] a true dual-threat quarterback,” TSU head coach Clarence McKinney said of his signal-caller. “If we can protect him, he can make those throws. And then, he can do some things in the run game that a lot of quarterbacks can’t do. He’s very athletic, and he’s growing as a quarterback.”
Yeah, all that stops when they travel to play the #2 Total Defense in the nation.
Jackson State 35, Texas Southern 10
Mississippi Valley State (2-5, 1-4) vs. Alabama A&M (4-3, 2-3)
Saturday, November 6, 2:00 PM (AAMU Sports Network)
Their record doesn’t indicate it, but Mississippi Valley State is a much-improved program. Their point differential during this three-game losing is eight per game. In their matchup against Jackson State last week, the Delta Devils turn the ball over five times and only lost by nine. The Tigers’ closest game against a conference opponent since Week One.
This week, the Delta Devils will travel to Huntsville to face AAMU, who had their best offensive output of the year last week against Alabama State in the Magic City Classic.
Bulldog quarterback Aqeel Glass had his best passing day of the season so far, 321 yards, four touchdowns, and no turnovers. AAMU hasn’t dropped a game to MVSU since 2015, but that Bulldog defense is a concern. Will they be able to contain VSU running back Caleb Johnson? The redshirt sophomore has rushed for 428 yards and scored five total touchdowns in October. HIT THE UPSET BUTTON!
Delta Devils 24, Bulldogs 24
Alabama State (3-4, 2-3) vs. Prairie View A&M (6-1, 5-0)
Saturday, November 6, 3:00 PM
October was rough for ASU. The Hornets started October with a 28-0 loss to FAMU and finished it Saturday with a loss to rival AAMU, ending the month with a 1-3 record. Donald Hill-Eley, 1-4 all-time against the Bulldogs thanks to Saturday’s loss, got fired on Monday with defensive coordinator Travis Pearson taking over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Pearson’s first opponent, the best team in the West Division on their homecoming.
Will ASU’s defense be able to contain Panthers quarterback Jawon Pass? Alabama State has allowed 873 passing yards and nine passing touchdowns in October. The best offense in the SWAC against conference opponents has only given up four sacks in those five matchups.
Panthers 30, Hornets 17
Grambling State (3-5, 2-3) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-7, 0-5)
Saturday, November 6, 3:00 PM (ESPN+)
Both teams are looking to start the month of November with a win.
Grambling hasn’t earned a victory since October 16 and needs to win out to avoid having consecutive sub-500 seasons in the Broderick Fobbs era. The Golden Lions are looking for their first win since Week One and need one win in the next three weeks to avoid having their first double-digit loss season since 2016.
Something has to give Saturday when Grambling’s stagnant offense (last in yards per game in the SWAC) faces the thirteen-worst total defense in the nation. It doesn’t help that neither team has any stability at the quarterback position.
Tigers 20, Golden Lions 17
Florida A&M (6-2, 4-1) vs. Southern (4-4, 3-2)
Saturday, November 6, 7:00 PM (ESPN+)
What was once a huge interconference rivalry has now become an intradivisional one.
The Rattlers are still vying for postseason play, be it the SWAC championship game or the FCS playoffs. For that to happen, they will have to win the remainder of their schedule against opponents that have a combined 3-13 record against SWAC teams.
There’s an adage in football that “defense travels well.” Well, FAMU head coach Willie Simmions will be bringing the SWAC’s best defense against the pass and third-down conversions along with being second in rushing yards and points allowed.
That Jaguars offensive line, which has allowed 12 sacks in eight games, will have the tough task of trying to slow down Rattler DE Isaiah Land, who has the most sacks in the nation (12.0)
Rattlers 31, Jaguars 21