Duane Nash is our resident HBCU expert and operator of The Yard-HBCU Sports. You can follow Duane — like 7,000 other big-time HBCU fans have — on Twitter @TheYardHBCU. Duane will give readers weekly insight into what teams will win the big games, which individuals are in contention for big honors … and much, much more.
FOR STARTERS It’s Week 11 of the college football season and the conference title races are starting to take shape. As of this weekend, eleven teams are still in the running to make their way to Atlanta while two teams are still in search of their first conference win. In the MEAC, the conference’s top three teams will be facing off against “cupcakes” while the Bison will be playing their first game since former head coach Ron Prince has been placed on administrative leave. In the SWAC, we’ll have two intra-divisional games, two inter-divisional games and an “exhibition” for the Jaguars. Florida A&M and Mississippi Valley State will sit this week out. And to Eagle Nation, my apologies about my pick last week. I meant to pick North Carolina Central against Howard. I’ll take that loss against my record this year…but I was right that they weren’t going to score more than forty against them.
Here are Duane’s picks for this week’s games:
Hampton (5-4, 1-2) at Charleston Southern (3-6, 1-2), Saturday, 1:00 PM The Pirates will need a WHOLE LOTTA help to win the Big South title this year, but it’s not to say that achievements can’t be met. A victory this week would be their first road win of the season, and it’ll give the Pirates their sixth win of the season, guaranteeing that Hampton will, at least, finish 2019 at .500. Mind you, this is a winnable game for Hampton, who are facing the second-worst defense in the Big South, but as simple and cliché as this is, the Pirates will have to limit their mistakes. Especially the controllable ones. Meaning, get those penalties down – currently, the Pirates are averaging nine per game in their last four – and don’t turn the ball over. In their last three wins, the Bucs have forced nine turnovers. THE PICK: Pirates 30, Buccaneers 24
There are four teams still in contention for the MEAC crown, Bethune Cookman, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State. This week, the Eagles are looking to keep their championship hopes alive, while the Aggies, Wildcats and Bulldogs are facing opponents with a combined record of 3-24. Yes, you play to win the game and, of course, anything can happen on any given Saturday but let’s be realistic, the better teams should all get “dubs” this weekend, so I won’t go into detail with those picks.
Norfolk State (3-6, 2-3) at North Carolina Central (4-5, 3-2), Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN3 The Eagles will need to win out in order to, at least, get a share of the MEAC title. The Spartans, on the on the other hand, will look to play spoiler TWICE this weekend in Durham by knocking them out of title contention and ruining the Eagles’ Homecoming. Central has won five of the last six meetings between the two schools, including their 36-6-win last season in Norfolk. Look for NCCU RB Isaiah Totten to exploit the MEAC’s worst rush defense if they want to improve on that streak. On the inverse, it’s the Eagles run defense, that was given up 79 yards per game on the ground, will need to slow down Norfolk RBs Rayquan Smith, Kevin Johnson and QB Juwan Carter. And speaking of Carter, the junior from Richmond, who hasn’t thrown an interception in his last three games, will have to continue to protect the ball against the nation’s fourth-best defense in turnovers gained. … THE PICK: Spartans 28, Eagles 24
No. 15 North Carolina A&T (6-2, 4-1) at Morgan State (1-8, 1-5), Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN3 … THE PICK: Aggies 35, Bears 10
Bethune Cookman (6-2, 4-1) at Delaware State (1-8, 0-6), Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN3 … THE PICK: Wildcats 35, Hornets 17
Howard (1-8, 1-4) at South Carolina State (5-3, 3-2), Saturday, 1:30 PM, ESPN3 … THE PICK: Bulldogs 30, Bison 10
Eastern Illinois (0-9, 0-5) at Tennessee State (2-7, 1-4), Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN+: At 2-7, Coach Reed already has his worst coaching record at TSU since his first year at the helm (3-8), but it doesn’t mean that the Tigers’ season is over. QB Cameron Rosendahl and WR Chris Rowland are some of the best players in the Ohio Valley Conference and still have opportunities to earn individual achievements for their respective play this season. Look for TSU to attempt to get into a shootout with the OVC’s worst scoring offense, which has averaged 18 points per game against conference opponents. THE PICK: Tigers 30, Panthers 21[divider]
Alcorn State (6-2, 4-0) at Grambling State (4-4, 2-2), Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN3: With a win at the Bayou Classic, Grambling could make this a preview of the SWAC Title Game. After starting the season 0-4, the Tigers have drastically improved, winning four-straight. Coming into this game, Coach Fobbs probably know that his Tigers have won five straight over Alcorn in Grambling. The question is, who will the Tiger defense see under for Alcorn? Will it be QB Felix Harper, the phenom that has scored 21 touchdowns with NO interceptions in his last five wins? Or will we see the return of Noah Johnson, the former Offensive Player of the Year that has been dealing with a shoulder injury since Week 3? Either way, GSU defensive coordinator Everett Todd will have sleepless nights until Saturday. THE PICK: Braves 30, Tigers 21
Jackson State (4-5, 3-1) at Alabama A&M (5-4, 2-2), Saturday, 2:00 PM: Both of these teams are still in the East Division title race. Jackson State is currently on a three-game win streak while the Bulldogs are playing their third home game of the season…IN WEEK 11! Even though Alabama A&M came up short in last week’s loss to Southern, potential player of the year candidate QB Aqeel Glass still passed for 356 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. That was the fourth time this season that Glass has passed for at least 300 yards and four touchdowns. This game should be interesting. During their current winning streak, Jackson State has face two of the more prolific offenses in the SWAC and lowered their output. Can it happen again? THE PICK: Tigers 35, Bulldogs 31
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (5-4, 2-3) at Prairie View A&M (3-5, 2-3) at, Saturday, 7:00 PM: The Panthers are still in the hunt for the West Division title but will need to win out and get some help. Fresh off a bye, PVAMU is looking to redeem itself after a bad 2OT loss to Jackson State two weeks ago while UAPB is hoping that QB Shannon Patrick will play mistake-free ball this Saturday. The junior from West palm Beach has thrown six interceptions in their three conference losses this season. Can’t give the ball away if they want to keep from losing their eighth-straight to the Panthers. THE PICK: Panthers 30, Golden Lions 17
Alabama State (4-4, 3-2) at Texas Southern (0-9, 0-5), Saturday, 3:00 PM: The Hornets are in the worst situation of all the East Division teams, needing to win out and help from other teams. Thankfully, they will be facing the winless Tigers. Yes, TSU is currently on a twelve-game losing streak, and yes, the Tigers are giving up 39 points per game against SWAC opponents…BUT the Tigers are 7-1 in their last 8 against ASU. Remember, any given Saturday… THE PICK: Hornets 35, Tigers 17
Virginia-Lynchburg (0-7) at Southern (5-4), Saturday, 5:00 PM: Aye!!! You would think that it was Homecoming for the Jogs but it’s just a tune-up for Coach Odums’ squad before they finish conference play when they face Virginia-Lynchburg of the NCCAA this week in Baton Rouge. The Dragons, who are currently on a twelve-game losing streak dating back to last season, has been outscored 207-29 in their last four games. The SWAC is currently 2-0 against UVL this season, get ready to make it 3-0. The Jags could score 60+ for the second time this season. THE PICK: Jaguars 56, Dragons 6