An HBCU head coach once said, “You’re either a contender or pretender in the month of November.”
We’re two weeks away from the end of the 2023 college football season, and the championship hopes within the MEAC and the SWAC’s West Division are still tight, while other programs have achieved some milestones.
Week 10 was highlighted by Hampton moving one game closer to finishing the season above .500 for the first time since 2018. Jackson State solidified their first seven-win season — outside of the Coach Prime Era — since 2013. Alcorn State obtained the SWAC West Division lead with a win over Southern, and three MEAC teams are within a game of first place.
Quarterback Tahj Smith threw two touchdown passes to usher Morgan State to their first back-to-back victory of the season, while freshman running back Jawarn Howell’s 283 rushing yards and three TDs led the way as the Bulldogs racked up 438 yards on the ground in South Carlina State’s win over Howard to set up three teams tied for second with 2-1 records.
This week, Jackson State is on a bye as we take one step closer to the season finales.
Here are my top five matchups and predictions for this week.
2023 record: 99-31
Week 10: 9-3
Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM
Week 11 FCS HBCU Top 5 Games
All times are Eastern Standard
5. Tennessee State (6-3, 2-2) at Eastern Illinois (6-3, 2-2), Saturday, 1:00 PM (ESPN+)
The obvious question is will Tennessee State rebound after a tough road loss to Charleston Southern, as the Tigers look to avoid losing back-to-back games this season. That said, TSU has yet to play back-to-back road games this year. Saturday, the Tigers will travel to a second Charleston in as many weeks. This time, it’s Charleston, IL to face the league’s best signal-caller. In their last two victories, EIU quarterback Pierce Holley has passed for 489 yards while scoring four touchdowns.
Panthers 27, Tigers 24
4. Alcorn State (6-3, 5-1) at Texas Southern (2-7, 1-5), Sunday, 3:00 PM (ESPN+)
The current SWAC West Division leaders travel to Houston to face a program that has seen its share of struggles this year. Even though TSU has just one conference win, Saturday won’t be easy for the Braves. The Tigers only have a minus five-point differential per game against SWAC opponents and were able to defeat Alcorn in Mississippi last season. Keep an eye on the fifth-ranked rusher in the nation, TSU running back LaDarius Owens, who has rushed for 1,062 yards and five touchdowns. But if the Tigers want to play spoiler this weekend, they’ll have to improve on their league-worst 35 points allowed per contest.
Braves 38, Tigers 27
3. Morgan State (3-5, 2-1) at South Carolina State (4-5, 2-1), Saturday, Noon (ESPN+)
In what will be an emotional day in Orangeburg, the Bulldogs will welcome Morgan State to Oliver C. Dawson Stadium for head coach Buddy Pough’s final home game. With both teams currently a game out of first place, this has all the signs of being a physical matchup as the MEAC’s top rush offense and defense face one another. The Bears, who are holding teams to 3.2 yards per carry, will attempt to corral the Bulldog’s ground game one week after S.C. State gained over 400 rushing yards.
Bears 20, Bulldogs 17
2. Prairie View A&M (4-5, 4-2) at Southern (5-4, 4-2), Saturday, 3:00 PM (ESPN+)
With their three-game win streak snapped, Southern head coach Eric Dooley and the Jags will host his former team in Baton Rouge. Looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this year, Prairie View also aspires to avenge their 45-13 loss to Southern in 2022. Pay attention to PVAMU Quarterback Trazon Connley, who compiled 351 total yards and two total touchdowns last week. Southern’s defense has allowed an average of 441 yards of offense against their last two opponents. Both teams, however, need a win here to stay a game behind Alcorn in the West Division standings.
Jaguars 28, Panthers 24
1. #7 North Carolina Central (8-1, 3-0) at Howard (4-5, 2-1), Saturday, 3:30 PM (ESPNU)
Widely considered THE game of the year in the MEAC, last season’s co-champions will have the opportunity to take the lead in the standings one week before the season finale. The Bison are 2-0 in Greene Stadium this year but are in search of their first win against North Carolina Central since rekindling their conference rivalry in 2013. To do so, they’ll have to find a way to keep pace with the nation’s tenth-highest-scoring offense. Averaging 36.4 points per game, the Eagles not only are the highest-scoring HBCU on the FCS level, but they are also outscoring teams in their league by more than 13 points per contest.
Eagles 35, Bison 24
Norfolk State (2-7, 0-3) at Delaware State (1-8. 0-3), Saturday, Noon (ESPN+)
Spartans 27, Hornets 17
Grambling State (4-5, 3-3) at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-8, 0-6), Friday, 9:00 (ESPNU)
Tigers 31, Golden Lions 13
Alabama A&M (4-5, 2-4) at Bethune-Cookman (2-7, 1-5), Saturday, 1:00 PM (HBCU GO)
Bulldogs 28, Wildcats 17
Alabama State (5-3, 4-2) at Mississippi Valley State (1-8, 1-5), Saturday, 3:00 PM (Valley State Sports Network/YouTube)
Hornets 24, Delta Devils 10
Lincoln (CA) (0-11) at #13 Florida A&M (8-1), Saturday, 6:00 PM (Rattlers+)
Rattlers 49, Oaks 7
William & Mary (5-4, 3-3) at Hampton (5-4, 3-3), Saturday, 1:00 PM (FloSports)
Tribe 24, Pirates 21
North Carolina A&T (1-8, 0-6) at Rhode Island (5-4, 3-3), Saturday, 1:00 PM (FloSports)
Rams 30, Aggies 24