Week 3 was a tough one for FCS HBCU programs.
Of the 17 total matchups throughout the four conferences, only seven teams walked away with victories. A fourth-quarter rally led Hampton to its seventh straight win over Howard, Southern avoided going 0-3 for the first time in school history, Alcorn got an out of conference win over McNeese, Tennessee State earned its first win in the new Big South/OVC, and three SWAC teams defeated Division II and NAIA opponents.
This week kicks off on Thursday with UAPB at Alabama A&M. Saturday features more MEAC vs. CAA action, four SWAC league games, an HBCU intraconference rematch from two years ago, and Buddy Pough faces an opponent for the first time while Hampton, North Carolina A&T, Tennessee State, and Southern are on byes.
Here are my top five matchups and predictions for this week.
2023 record: 39-12
Week 3: 12-5
Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM
All times are Eastern Standard
Week 4 HBCU Top 5 Games
5. Mississippi Valley State (0-2) vs. #19 North Carolina Central (2-1), Saturday, 3:00 PM
This year’s Circle City Classic participants are looking to rebound after Week 3 losses. NCCU has not forgotten about its one-point defeat to the Delta Devils in 2021 and they “want their lick back.” They just may get that chance, facing a defense that allows 464 total yards per game.
Eagles 28, Delta Devils 14
4. Texas Southern (0-3, 0-1) at Grambling State (1-2, 0-0), Saturday, 3:00 PM (HBCU GO)
It’s early in the season, and both teams are still in the hunt for the SWAC West Division title. Statistically the two worst defenses in the conference, there is a chance this game could be an offensive showcase with signal callers Myles Crawley (670 passing yards, six touchdowns, one interception) and Andrew Body. But Body, who is dealing with an injury, is a game-time decision.
Grambling 24, TSU 20
5. Bethune-Cookman (1-2, 0-0) at Jackson State (2-2, 0-1), Saturday, 7:00 PM (ESPN+)
A win on Saturday will keep either BCU or JSU on pace with divisional leader FAMU. The Wildcats must improve their offensive output (214.3 yards and 17.3 points per game) to earn their first victory over the Tigers as SWAC members, but that BCU defense will have its hands full with QB Jason Brown (831 pass yards, four touchdowns, one interception) and RB Irv Mulligan (322 rush yards, four touchdowns).
Tigers 27, Wildcats 17
2. Prairie View A&M (1-2, 1-0) at Alcorn State (1-2, 0-0), Saturday, 7:00 PM
With five running backs between both teams averaging 40-plus rushing yards per game – Alcorn’s Jarveon Howard (66.5), Niko Duffey (46.3), Tyler Macon (41.3), and Prairie View’s Ahmad Antoine (73.7), and Caleb Johnson (55.0) – you’d expect the defensive gameplan to focus on the ground attack. Keep an eye on Alcorn quarterback Aaron Allen (352 pass yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs) to see if he takes advantage of a Panther defense that allows 49.3 points and 329.7 passing yards per game.
Braves 17, Panthers 14
1. Alabama State (1-1, 0-0) at #23 Florida A&M (2-1, 1-0), Saturday, 6:00 PM (ESPN+)
The Hornets are in search of retribution in this battle of strength vs. strength as the SWAC’s best offense and defense collide. Last season, a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown was the difference in FAMU’s 21-14 win in Montgomery. Averaging under 16 points per game, ASU will have to get more production out of its offense if it wants to end two streaks that the Rattlers are currently riding – not losing to the Hornets in 20 years and winning 17 straight at Bragg.
Rattlers 28, Hornets 17
Delaware State (0-3) at Miami (Ohio) (2-1), Saturday, 3:30 PM (ESPN+)
RedHawks 35, Hornets 10
Norfolk State (1-2) at Towson (1-2), Saturday, 4:00 PM (FloSports)
Tigers 27, Spartans 12
UAlbany (1-2) at Morgan State (1-2), Saturday, 6:00 PM (ESPN+)
Great Danes 17, Bears 16
The Citadel (0-3) at South Carolina State (0-3), Saturday, 6:00 PM (ESPN+)
SC State 13, Citadel 10
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-2, 0-0) at Alabama A&M (1-2, 0-1), Thursday, 7:30 PM (ESPNU)
Golden Lions 17, Bulldogs 14