We’re at Week 5 of the College Football season already?
Well, a third of the year is done. Conference play has started in the OVC and SWAC. Eddie George is off to a slow start in Nashville. Alabama A&M hasn’t lost a game since November 2019. and the West Division-leading Prairie View A&M Panthers, who were picked to finish fourth in their division, may be a surprise to everyone outside of Texas.
This week, Homecoming Season begins, familiar faces will meet as out-of-conference foes, there will be three MEAC vs. NEC games, and a few firsts against conference opponents.
SWAC programs Alcorn State, Jackson State, and Southern will be on byes this weekend. That means 12 games will be on this week’s slate.
I was 8-3 with my picks last weekend (28-15 overall). Happy, but I’m not satisfied.
Let’s make some picks.
All Times ET
HBCU vs. HBCU Non-Conference
Bethune-Cookman at South Carolina State
Saturday, October 2, 1:30 PM (ESPN+)
With a combined record of 0-7, these former MEAC rivals face off for the first time as non-conference opponents since 1974. SCSU head coach Oliver Pough has referred to Saturday’s game as “The Battle of the O-Fers.” Both defenses are allowing over 450 yards of offense and 42 points per game, but make no mistake, this game will not be a “gimmie” for either team.
Bulldogs 38, Wildcats 30
Norfolk State at Hampton
Saturday, October 2, 2:00 PM (ESPN+)
“The Battle of the Bay” will be renewed for the first time since 2017. Even though QBs Jett Duffey (Hampton) and Juwan Carter (Norfolk) are very capable passers, I anticipate this game to be centered around the running attack. Both offenses average over 230 yards on the ground along with scoring over 29 points per game.
Spartans 31, Pirates 28
North Carolina Central at Mississippi Valley State
Saturday, October 2, 4:00 PM
Coming off an emotional loss in Greensboro, NCCU will have to travel to Mississippi to face their second SWAC opponent of the season. Going to Itta Bena won’t be foreign to Eagles head coach Trei Oliver, a former assistant in the conference for seven seasons. MVSU’s Homecoming very well could be a battle of dual-threat QBs, with both signal-callers compiling over 230 yards of total offense last week – MVSU Jalani Eason: 235, NCCU Davius Richard: 254.
Eagles 30, Delta Devils 24
Robert Morris at North Carolina A&T
Saturday, October 2, 1:00 PM (ESPN3)
A week after earning the first win of their respective seasons, these Big South newcomers meet in their first conference game. Expect head coach Sam Washington to continue to rely on what he knows best, a suffocating defense and a strong run game … but with a twist. Current Aggies leading rusher RB Kashon Baker (12 rushes, 137 yards, TD) recorded his first-ever 100-yard game Saturday against NC Central.
Aggies 24, Colonials 13
St. Francis (Pa) at Morgan State
Saturday, October 2, Noon (ESPN+)
Starting their season 0-3 for the fourth straight season, the Bears host St. Francis, who will face a second MEAC opponent in as many weeks. Morgan State, who has dealt with issues on both sides of the ball, must find a way to stop RB Marques DeShields. The redshirt junior out of Clementon, NJ led the Red Flash offense last week with a career-high 175 yards of total offense.
Red Flash 28, Bears 13
Sacred Heart at Howard
Saturday, October 2, 1:00 PM (ESPN+)
Just like Morgan State, who faced the Pioneers two weeks ago, Howard will be in search of several “firsts”. Larry Scott is in search of his first-ever win as Bison head coach in the first game of the season in Greene Stadium. Howard QB Quinton Williams (Last week: 273 Total Yards, 2 TDs) will look to test a pass defense that allows 108.5 Pass YPG while The Buffalo Soldiers defense will have their hands full with SHU RB Malik Grant, who is averaging 100 Rush YPG in his last three games.
Pioneers 21, Bison 17
Delaware State at Wagner
Saturday, October 2, 5:00 PM
With a record of 1-17 dating back to 2017, Wagner is looking for its first win in 736 days this coming Saturday. The Hornets will look to extend that streak by exploiting a Seahawks’ defense that allows 384.8 yards and 42.5 points per game this season. Coincidentally, DSU is 2-38 on the road dating back to 2014. At least the Hornets can say they’ve won a game this calendar year … twice.
Hornets 20, Seahawks 17
Tennessee State at Austin Peay
Saturday, October 2, 8:00 PM (ESPN+)
Coming off a 47-14 shellacking to Southeast Missouri State, head coach Eddie George & Co. will travel about an hour northwest to Clarksville to face the OVC’s most prolific offense, which is currently averaging 33.2 points and 453.0 yards per game. Governors’ sophomore QB Draylen Ellis is ninth in the nation in total pass yards (1,196) and 12th nationally in pass yards per game (299). If TSU plans on stealing one on the road, they will have to keep Ellis off the field with a heavy dose of RBs Devon Starling and Deveon Bryant.
Governors 30, Tigers 17
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Prairie View A&M
Thursday, September 30, 7:30 PM (ESPNU)
UAPB is coming off a tough loss at home last Thursday only to face an opponent they are 1-7 against dating back to 2013. That one win, a 36-31 victory in Pine Bluff this past April. The Golden Lions need this one to stay in the hunt for the West Division title. A win and the Panthers stay perfect in conference play. I expect this game to be a shootout, with both starting QBs passing for over 300 yards.
Panthers 35, Golden Lions 30.
Alabama A&M at Grambling State
Saturday, October 2, 3:00 PM (ESPN+)
The Tigers are winners of five straight over AAMU. Problem is, this year’s version of GSU averages 5.3 PPG (yes, you read that correctly). The Bulldogs’ defense allows 34.3 PPG but will freshman QB Noah Bodden, starting for the first time this season, be able to keep up with AAMU QB Aqeel Glass?
Bulldogs 42 Tigers 17
North American at Texas Southern
Saturday, October 2, 3:00 PM (AT&T Sportsnet)
What usually cures an ailing football program that’s looking for a win? You’ve guessed it, a homecoming opponent. Enter North American. The second-year independent program is looking to join the NAIA in Fall 2022. Should be an easy win for the FCS program, right? Well, nothing comes easy to TSU. Currently riding a 19-game losing streak, TSU hasn’t won a game since 2018 (yes, it was a homecoming game) and has recorded an overall record of 4-34 dating back to 2017.
Tigers 30, Stallions 7
Alabama State at Florida A&M
Saturday, October 2, 6:00 PM
Coming off a huge conference win over BCU, the Hornets will travel to Bragg Stadium for the first time since 2008 to face a FAMU team that’s fresh off a bye. ASU will look to establish the run with RBs Jacory Merritt, Ezra Gray, and dual-threat QB Ryan Nettles. Keep an eye on FAMU’s punt team. The Rattlers will be without All-American punter Chris Faddoul for the remainder of the year, and ASU ranks third in the SWAC in punt returns per attempt.
Hornets 28, Rattlers 17