We only have a month left in the football season and the Celebration Bowl picture is developing. Alcorn State, Florida A&M and Southern are in good shape while other teams are looking to keep pace and maybe get some help along the way from intra-conference rivals. Teams on a bye this weekend are South Carolina State and Southern.
Ok now, let’s preview these games and make some picks!
MORE HBCU: SWAC Moves Title Venue One Month Before Game
MEAC Game of the Week:
Florida A&M at Howard
Last week, Caylin Newton and the Bison offense was held to less than 32 points and 200 yards passing for only the second time this season in their 27-21 loss to SCSU. If Howard expects to slow down the Rattlers and keep them from winning six-straight — after beating down Morgan State last week – Newton will have to return to form and do what no other team has done to FAMU during this streak, pass for more than 250 yards. A task that will be made a little easier with the return of WR Jaquez Ezzerd.
Prediction: Rattlers 30, Bison 21.
Notes: The Bison are 4-1 in their last five games against the Rattlers. That lone win for FAMU was in DC in 2014.
Said that last week’s 32-3 loss against Savannah State was an upset but I was kindly reminded about how bad the Spartans have looked offensively since putting up 54 on Delaware State. Over the last three weeks, Norfolk State has averaged 3 points per game, scoring only one touchdown in their match-up against NCCU with 16 seconds left in the game. And now they must travel to Greensboro to face a rested Aggies team on their homecoming. This won’t end well.
Prediction: Aggies 40, Spartans 6
Notes: The Aggies are 4-0 in their last four games against the Spartans, outscoring them 127-19.
Both teams are coming off blowout loses and have dropped two straight games. As it pertains competing for a MEAC Championship, Bethune Cookman is barely keeping themselves in contention, needing a little help from Howard. If the Bears, who average 16 points per in MEAC games this season, expect to play the role of spoiler, they will need to slow down QB Akevious Williams and the Wildcats offense that has averaged 27 points against conference opponents.
Prediction: Wildcats 24, Bears 20
Notes: Bethune has won six-straight over Morgan, with their last loss in Baltimore being in 2006.
Neither team can win a conference title, but they haven’t quit on the season either. This will be the first time ever that both teams will come into this match-up after a win. In those wins, both teams rushed the ball for over 270 yards and scored the most points they scored all season (SSU-32, DSU-28). With that said, both teams are a combined 3-12 so take your pick!
Prediction: Tigers 20, Hornets 18
Notes: Last year’s 35-21 win over Delaware State is the first ever for Savannah State in five attempts.
This is basically an exhibition game for the Eagles, facing NAIA opponent Edward Waters, before they finish their remaining conference games. The 4-5 Tigers, which are led by dual-threat QB Derrick Jones and RB Corey Hammett, will look to take advantage of a NCCU defense that gives up 469 yards and 33 points per game. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Edward Waters is talented enough to do so.
Prediction: Eagles 41, Tigers 7
Notes: Central is 4-0 all-time against Edward Waters, outscoring the Tigers 169-33.
SWAC Game of the Week:
Prairie View at Jackson State
Both teams are looking to keep pace with their respective divisional leaders. They both are on a two-game skid, averaging a little less than 7-points per game. PVAM RB Dawonya Tucker has been held to 77 total rushing yards in two games after facing the top two rushing defenses in the SWAC, and now, the Panthers are traveling to Mississippi to face the third. On the flip side, after stealing one from the best team (currently) in the MEAC, the Tigers wins are against teams that are a combined 2-13.
Prediction: Panthers 28, Tigers 14
Notes: After losing 27-straight against Jackson State from 1972 to 2002, the Panthers and Tigers have split their last twelve match-ups with Prairie View winning four-in-a-row.
A game behind Southern with three games remaining, Grambling can’t afford to lose. Especially to a one-win Mississippi Valley State team that has given up 42 points per against SWAC opponents. Let’s not act like it can’t happen. The Tigers narrowly avoided a loss to another one-win SWAC opponent with their 45-38 OT win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff where they almost were penalized as many yards (200) as they rushed (233) or passed for (217).
Prediction: Tigers 35, Delta Devils 10
Notes: In their last 20 match-ups, dating back to 1997, Grambling is 19-1 against MVSU. Never won in Grambling.
The Golden Lions are still looking for a win against a conference opponent in 2018. After Saturday’s game, they should still be looking. Coach Maynor is 3-0 against SWAC teams that have a conference record of .500 or worse. Bulldog QB Aqeel Glass has passed for at least 200 yards and 2 TDs in his last three starts. Expect that trend to continue this week.
Prediction: Bulldogs 30, Golden Lions 14
Notes: Alabama A&M is 6-1 in their last seven games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. That loss was in 2014…in Pine Bluff.
The Tigers are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time in 2018. The Hornets want to avoid losing three straight for the second time this year. Even though Alabama State has given up almost 29 points per game against SWAC opponents, they did earn a big win this year over Alcorn State. Expect the best pass defense in the conference – yes, you read that correctly – to attempt to slow down the Texas Southern aerial attack, led by QB Glen Cuiellette and WR Bobby Hartzog.
Prediction: Tigers 21, Hornets 20
Notes: This is going to sound repetitive, but Alabama State is 6-1 in their last seven games against Texas Southern. That loss was in 2016…in Montgomery.
This game could go in one of two different directions. Alcorn could use this match-up as a late season exhibition and rest its key players for their final game in an attempt to host the SWAC Championship Game or attempt to defeat an FBS program for only the second time in the program’s history. The latter is a possibility since the Aggies, who are 2-7, give up 42 points (fourth worst in FBS) and allow 472 yards per game (thirteen worst). If you were Coach McNair, what would you do?
Prediction: Braves 24, Aggies 21
Notes: The Aggies and Braves have faced off before, back in 2008. New Mexico State won 45-10
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