With only three weeks remaining in the 2023 college football season, the postseason picture is becoming a little clearer, but there is still plenty of intrigue as the race for conference championships continues this weekend.
Week 9 was highlighted by Florida A&M extending their home win streak to 17 while clinching the SWAC East Division Title for the first time since joining the conference. Howard earned a hard-fought road victory in Orangeburg. Alabama State head coach Eddie Robinson, Jr. is now 2-0 as in the Magic City Classic, and North Carolina Central entered rarified air with their victory over South Carolina State last Thursday.
NCCU’s 62-28 victory over SCSU not only marks head coach Trei Oliver’s first-ever win over Buddy Pough, but the Eagles’ point total is the third most allowed by the Bulldogs in the Pough Era and the most ever by an FCS opponent. Only Clemson (73, 2014) and Texas A&M (70, 2012) have scored more.
This week, the slate is chock-filled with conference games while highlighted by the final weekend of football homecomings at North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M, South Carolina State, and the Port City Classic.
Here are my top five matchups and predictions for this week.
2023 record: 90-28
Week 9: 10-1
Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM
Week 10 FCS HBCU Top 5 Games
All times are Eastern Standard
5. #15 Florida A&M (7-1, 6-0) at Alabama A&M (4-4, 2-3), Saturday, 2:00 PM (ESPN+)
Off to their best start since 2019, the Rattlers have already checked off one accomplishment for the 2023 season with their Week 9 victory, clinching the East. This week, FAMU will travel to Huntsville to face an opponent they have yet to lose to since joining the SWAC. Last week, the SWAC’s highest-scoring offense was held to 16 points by Alabama State. Things won’t get any easier as they welcome the third-stingiest defense in the nation (15.3 points per game).
Rattlers 31, Bulldogs 14
4. Tennessee State (6-2, 2-1) at Charleston Southern (3-5, 1-2), Saturday, 4:00 PM (ESPN+)
What head coach Eddie George is doing in Nashville this season is almost being ignored. The Tigers have secured their first winning season since 2017, are off to their best start since 2016, and are currently riding the third-longest win streak in FCS HCBU football (4). This week, they’ll travel to North Charleston to face the Buccaneers for the first time in program history. After compiling 43 points in their win over Lindenwood last week, the Tigers will look to attack a CSU defense that allowed 430 total yards against Bryant in Week 9.
Tigers 28, Buccaneers 17
3. Grambling State (4-4, 3-2) vs. Alabama State (4-3, 3-2), Saturday, 5:00 PM
Both teams earned big wins last week and are two victories away from securing winning records in 2023. But the Hornets can only attempt to play spoiler for the remainder of the season as the East Division Title was clinched last weekend. The Tigers, who are 1-3 away from Grambling this year, are currently one game out of first place in the West and will look to avenge their 23-20 loss to Alabama State in the inaugural Port City Classic. To do so, the SWAC’s second-best scoring offense will have to find ways to score against ASU’s defense, which has allowed an average of 16.3 points per game against its last three opponents.
Hornets 24, Tigers 21
2. Howard (4-4, 2-0) at South Carolina State (3-5, 1-1), Saturday, 1:30 PM (ESPN+)
The Bison are looking to go 3-0 in MEAC play for the first time since 2012 when they face South Carolina State in Buddy Pough’s final homecoming as head coach. However, the Bulldogs will need to win out to avoid SCSU’s fifth losing season since 2016. Even after last year’s 28-14 loss in D.C., Pough is 16-2 all-time against Howard. Both teams are still in contention for the MEAC Title, but South Carolina State will be facing a stingy Howard defense that Coach Pough has called “special.” The Bison are allowing 16.5 points per contest in two conference games.
Bison 27, Bulldogs 24
1. Southern (5-3, 4-1) at Alcorn State (5-3, 4-1), Saturday, 3:00 PM (ESPN+)
The winner will have a one-game lead in the SWAC West with two games remaining. Entering this contest, both defenses are ranked Top 15 nationally in points allowed, while Southern is ranked 21st in FCS, yielding 113 yards per game on the ground. However, the Jags gave up 303 rushing yards last week in their victory over Texas Southern. Behind running back Jarveon Howard (534 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns), Alcorn will see if they can be equally as successful running the ball.
Jaguars 24, Braves 21
Norfolk State (2-6, 0-2) at #12 North Carolina Central (7-1, 2-0), Saturday, 3:30 PM (ESPN+)
Eagles 35, Spartans 14
Delaware State (1-7. 0-2) at Morgan State (2-5, 1-1), Saturday, 1:00 PM (ESPN+)
Bears 20, Hornets 13
Mississippi Valley State (1-7, 1-4) at Bethune-Cookman (1-7, 0-5), Thursday, 7:30 (ESPNU)
Wildcats 17, Delta Devils 14
Texas Southern (2-6, 1-4) at Jackson State (6-3, 4-2), Saturday, 3:00 (ESPN+)
Jackson State 28, Texas Southern 21
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-7, 0-5) at Prairie View A&M (3-5, 3-2), Saturday, 3:00 (HBCU GO Sports)
Panthers 31, Golden Lions 10
Hampton (4-4, 2-3) at Maine (2-7, 1-5), Saturday, 1:00 PM (FloSports)
Pirates 28, Black Bears 24
Towson (3-5, 2-3) at North Carolina A&T (1-6, 0-4), Saturday, 1:00 PM (FloSports)
Tigers 20, Aggies 17