Week 1 was full of compelling storylines in HBCU FCS Football.
Touchdown Jesus finally welcomed an HBCU to South Bend. Division II HBCU programs handed out a few losses to their regional FCS rivals. Hampton and North Carolina Central handled fellow HBCU opponents. Three SWAC programs got an early 1-0 lead in league play, and the East Baltimore Bears surprised a nationally-ranked opponent on the road.
Morgan State defeated #16 Richmond 17-10 at Robins Stadium, ending the Spiders’ 17-game home-opening win streak while holding a team that averaged 31 points per game in 2022 to 10 on Saturday.
Once again, this week’s slate is filled with more Classics, a few “Money Games,” and a couple of chances for the SWAC to earn victories over out-of-conference opponents.
Here are my top five matchups and predictions for this week.
2023 record: 13-5
Week 1: 13-4
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All times are Eastern Standard
Week 2 HBCU Top 5 Games
5. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-1) vs. Tennessee State (0-1), Saturday, 7:00 PM (HBCU GO Sports)
This year’s “Southern Heritage Classic” will feature opponents looking to avoid an 0-2 start. UAPB, who hasn’t entered a season two down since 2016, will look to slow down dual-threat quarterback Deveon Bryant. TSU’s focus will be to slow down sophomore running back Johness Davis (102 total yards) as they try to avoid going 0-2 for the fourth straight year.
Tigers 27, Golden Lions 21
4. Norfolk State (0-1) at Hampton (1-0), Saturday, 6:00 PM (FloFootball)
“The Battle of the Bay” returns to Hampton, where the Spartans were able to steal a three-point overtime win in 2021. This Saturday, the Pirates look to earn back-to-back victories over Norfolk for the first time in 20 years. To avoid that, NSU will look to stop Hampton’s rush attack, led by running backs Christopher Zellous (15 car, 114 yds, 2 TDs) and Darran Butts (14 car, 103 yds, TD), that racked up 279 yards on the ground vs. Grambling.
Pirates 31, Spartans 21
3. #18 North Carolina Central (1-0) at North Carolina A&T (0-1), Saturday, 7:00 PM (FloFootball)
NCCU enters “The Aggie/Eagle Classic” with an opportunity to sweep their in-state rivals (NC A&T and Winston-Salem State) in back-to-back seasons for the 1st time since 1973-74. After giving up 458 yards of total offense against UAB, the Aggies will have their collective hands full with an NCCU offense that racked up 488 total yards last week, led by quarterback Davius Richard, who compiled 278 total yards of offense and four touchdowns.
Eagles 30, Aggies 10
2. Morgan State (1-0) at Akron (0-1), Saturday, 6:00 PM (ESPN+)
After knocking off an FCS nationally-ranked opponent, the Bears are traveling to Ohio with the hopes of starting a season 2-0 for the first time since 1993. Look for Morgan State to continue to rely on their stingy defense and the running back duo of Jabriel Johnson (9 car, 44 yds, TD) and Norfolk State transfer J.J. Davis (12 car, 73 yds) if they want to surprise an FBS program that has won five games since 2019.
Zips 20, Bears 17
1. Jackson State (1-1, 0-1 SWAC) at Southern (0-1, 0-1 SWAC), Saturday, 7:00 PM (ESPN+)
The 2022 SWAC Title Game participants will look to earn their first conference victory in “The Pete Richardson Classic.” JSU has a chance to extend their win streak over the Jags to four, but who will start at signal-caller in Baton Rouge? Southern will have to improve their offensive output from last week (235 total yards, 10 points) and find ways to continue to pressure the quarterback (4 total sacks, 2 QB hurries).
Tigers 24, Jaguars 21
Delaware State (0-1) at Army (0-1), Saturday, Noon (CBS Sports Network)
Black Knights 42, Hornets 7
South Carolina State (0-1) at Georgia Tech (0-1), Saturday, 1:00 PM (ESPN+/ACC Network)
Yellow Jackets 49, Bulldogs 6
Morehouse (0-1) at Howard (0-1), Saturday, 7:00 PM (ESPN+)
Bison 37, Maroon Tigers 17
Texas Southern (0-1) at Toledo (0-1), Saturday, 3:30 PM (ESPN+)
Rockets 38, Tigers 13
Savannah State (1-0) at Bethune-Cookman (0-1), Saturday, 4:00 PM (CatEye Network)
Wildcats 21 Tigers 17
Miles (1-0) at Alabama State (1-0), Saturday, 6:00 PM (Hornet Sports Network)
Hornets 20, Golden Bears 17
#21 Florida A&M (1-0) at South Florida (0-1), Saturday, 7:00 PM (ESPN+)
Bulls 30, Rattlers 27
Lane (0-1) at Alabama A&M (0-1), Saturday, 7:00 PM
Bulldogs 27, Dragons 17
Alcorn State (0-1) at Stephen F. Austin (0-1), Sept. 9, 7:00 PM (ESPN+)
Lumberjacks 28, Braves 24
Abilene Christian (1-0) at Prairie View A&M (1-0), Saturday, 7:00 PM
Wildcats 24, Panthers 21
Grambling State (0-1) at #5 LSU (1-0), Saturday, 7:30 PM (ESPN+/SEC Network)
LSU 56, GSU 7