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.
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FOR STARTERS: To quote Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, “what the hell’s goin’ on out here!??!” No, seriously, what IS goin’ on here? You would expect that by the second weekend in November, we (meaning us, you included) would have some sort of an understanding of how good — or bad — everyone is. And when I say “everyone”, I mean these teams but there are many adages that can be used to explain exactly what happened last weekend, but I’ll just go with an oldie but goodie, “any given Saturday”. I legit referred to a few teams last week as “cupcakes”. Went as far as to not even spend time breaking down those matchups. That’ll learn me. Well, now that lessons have been learned, we move on to Week 11 of the HBCU Football season. Two regular season games remain for everyone. As of this weekend, three teams are still in contention to represent the MEAC in the Celebration Bowl. First place is on the line in Greensboro while the Bulldogs look to stay in the race in Durham. In the SWAC, five teams are fighting to stay alive to play in the conference’s title game and first place in a divisional race is up for grabs. If you happened to care, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Texas Southern are both on bye…and just happen to be eliminated from title contention. Here are my picks for this week’s games!.
Here are Duane's picks for this week's games:
No. 11 Kennesaw State (8-2, 3-1) at Hampton (5-5, 1-3), Saturday, 1:00 PM What did I say about Hampton last week? In case you don’t remember, I said that the Pirates would need to “keep those penalties down… and don’t turn the ball over” if they were going to beat Charleston Southern. Welp, eight penalties for 100 yards and four turnovers later…but that was last week. Now eliminated from contention of winning the conference title, Hampton will face a Kennesaw State team that is getting ready for the playoffs in a few weeks. Good news for the Pirates, they are 4-1 at home. Bad news, those four opponents (Elizabeth City State, North Alabama, Virginia-Lynchburg, Presbyterian) have a combined win total (7) that is less than the Owls. THE PICK: Owls 30, Pirates 21[divider]
Bethune Cookman (6-3, 4-2) at No. 25 North Carolina A&T (6-3, 4-2), Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN3 Yeah, about last week… I expected both teams to come into this game with the same record, just not with a “3” in either of their loss columns. The best way to explain what happened in Bethune and A&T’s losses to one-win teams is that their respective opponents stymied their strengths. Translation, keep Bethune’s offense from extending drives, hold A&T running back under 100 rushing yards and allow A&T to kill themselves with penalties. Of these three, I would expect Coach Washington to use Martin early and often and attempt to exploit BCU’s rush defense which allowed 221 yards per game against their last two opponents…but the MEAC’s worst rush defense just held Jah-Maine to 80 yards in an A&T loss, so… THE PICK: Aggies 28, Wildcats 24
South Carolina State (6-3, 4-2) at North Carolina Central (4-6, 3-3), Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN3 Last weekend, the Eagles had their hopes of winning the MEAC crown in Coach Trei Oliver’s first season in Durham. This week, the first-year head coach can attempt to do the same with Buddy Pough. Bulldog quarterback Corey Fields threw SEVEN touchdowns in SC State’s win over Howard. Pough hasn’t won in Durham since 2013. Will Bulldogs use their newly found air attack against the nation’s sixth-best defense in turnovers gained? THE PICK: Bulldogs 27, Eagles 21
Norfolk State (4-6, 3-3) at Delaware State (2-8, 1-6), Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN3 Both teams had big wins last weekend. If either team can win out, they will accomplish what I like to call a “first time in a long time”. Finishing the season with at least one more win will mean that the Spartans will be guaranteed their highest win total since 2011. One more win for the Hornets and they will be guaranteed their highest win total since 2013. But winning is easier said than done. These teams have split their last six matchups. Norfolk won their last two road games while Del State has only won games played in Dover. THE PICK: Spartans 30, Hornets 17
Howard (1-8, 1-4) at No. 14 Florida A&M (8-1, 6-0), Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN3 The Nation’s Best Black College Football Team is on pace to finish this season with their best win percentage since the program’s historic run in 1978. To do that, they will look to redeem themselves from last season’s 31-23 loss to the Bison. Including last week’s loss to South Carolina State, Howard has given up at least 41 points to seven different opponents and has allowed 485 total points this season, which ranks last in the nation. THE PICK: Rattlers 56, Bison 7
Virginia-Lynchburg (0-8) at Morgan State (2-8), Saturday, 1:00 PM Coach Wheatley and his Bears got a HUGE win last week over North Carolina A&T, his first signature win of his career. Now, he has an opportunity to earn back-to-back wins when they face Virginia-Lynchburg of the NCCAA this week in Baltimore. Don’t tell anybody but Morgan State could quite possibly finish the season doing something that they haven’t done since 2015, which is win three-in-a-row. I’ll allow you to guess which MEAC opponent they will face then… THE PICK: Bears 35, Dragons 7[divider]
Tennessee State (2-8, 1-5) at Tennessee Martin (6-4, 5-2), Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN+: I did say last week would be a shootout for the Tigers. Hey, my prediction was almost the halftime score. Problem is, not only did the TSU offense shoot blanks in the second half, scoring only three points, the defense allowed the OVC’s worst scoring offense to score 28 in the final 30 minutes of play. Well, this week, the Tigers will travel to Martin to face the Skyhawks with a chance to win the Sgt. York Trophy. The Sgt. York Trophy is contested between the four OVC schools from the state of Tennessee. TSU is 1-0 this season and could win the trophy outright with wins in its final two games. In order to do so, they’ll have to hold on to the ball against the conference’s second-best defense in turnovers gained and hope that WR Chris Rowland can return from an injury sustained in last week’s game. THE PICK: Skyhawks 35, Tigers 24[divider]
Alabama A&M (6-4, 3-2) at Alcorn State (6-3, 4-1), Saturday, 3:00 PM This theoretical East Division Championship game pits two of the top offenses in the SWAC against one another. The Braves are looking to rebound after last week’s loss while the Bulldogs can represent the division in the SWAC Title game by winning their remaining games. Expect to see a Quarterback Duel between A&M’s Aqeel Glass and Alcorn’s Felix Harper. The thing that separates these two teams is their defenses. In conference play, the Bulldogs are allowing 20 more points per game to opponents. THE PICK: Braves 31, Bulldogs 27
Grambling State (5-4, 3-2) at Mississippi Valley State (2-7, 1-4), Saturday, 2:00 PM The SWAC’s worst nightmare might be coming true. The Tigers have won five straight and are on a trajectory towards the conference title game…again. Grambling’s coming off a win over last year’s conference champs and will be traveling to Itta Bena to face the slumping Delta Devils. Hey, the last time the Tigers lost to MVSU was in Itta Bena (can you guess by now that I like saying “Itta Benna”?) in 2012. I expect Grambling to extend their win streak over MVSU to seven. THE PICK: Tigers 30, Delta Devils 10
Southern (6-4, 5-1) at Jackson State (4-6, 3-2), Saturday, 3:00 PM The Tigers just had their three-game win streak snapped last week. This week, they will be welcoming the Jags into Jackson, an opponent they haven’t beaten at home since 2010. Yes, this is a non-divisional game, but it would be nice to go into a bye week on a three-game win streak of their own. Both teams rushed for over 360 yards last week. It’ll be fun to see how these teams, who are first (Southern) and third (JSU) versus the run against conference opponents, will look to slow down these stout running teams. THE PICK: Jaguars 30, Tigers 24
Edward Waters (1-9) at Prairie View A&M (4-5), Saturday, 3:00 PM This week, the Panthers will be rooting for the Delta Devils to win while they face off against the NAIA’s Edward Waters. Expect to see a lot of Panthers running back Dawonya Tucker, who has rushed for 250 yards and six touchdowns on 37 carries in his last two outings. The Tigers, who are currently on a four-game losing streak, have allowed 36 points per game in their first ten games. THE PICK: Panthers 35, Tigers 12
Alabama State (5-4) at Florida State (5-5), Saturday, Noon, ACCNX The first ever meeting between these two teams, the Seminoles can’t play down to Alabama State if they want to play in a bowl game in 2019. As for the Hornets, they can use this as a “learning experience” before they end their season against Prairie View next week. THE PICK: Seminoles 45, Hornets 17[divider]
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