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HBCU GameTime: Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Southern duke it out

HBCU GameTime w/ Donal Ware

The HBCU sports season is officially on, and as host of the national sports talk radio show, From the Press Box to Press Row, I cover all the action on the games that showcase our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU GameTime will provide a weekly rundown on what’s happening on the field, and occasionally other sports-related topics. Let’s play!

Beginning this week, a Black College Football version of the BCS is being introduced.

Much like the BCS, this new poll uses a pair of major HBCU weekly polls – the Black College Sports Page Top Ten and the Boxtorow HBCU Football Top 10 media poll – and three computer polls. Two of the computer polls, Massey Ratings and Peter Wolfe Ratings, are used in the actual BCS rankings.

The formula is such that the mean of the rankings of each school in the computer poll is added with the two “human” polls and divided by 3 to get the “BCF-BCS” ranking and ultimately the top 10 rankings.  The human polls count 67 percent towards the outcome and the computer polls count 33 percent.

Each Wednesday, the top 10 teams will be released on  Fans and people with general interest can get a feel for where HBCU teams would be ranked if there were a BCS.

Boxtorow/BCSP HBCU Football Power Rankings for Week of 10/15/12

Rank School Average CPU Average BCPS Boxtorow
1. Tennessee State 1.3 1.00 2 1
2. Bethune-Cookman 2.7 2.00 3 3
3. AAMU 4.4 3.33 6 4
4. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 5.2 3.67 7 5
5. Winston-Salem State 5.6 14.67 1 2
6. NC Central 6.8 5.33 8 7
7. Howard 8.2 6.67 9 9
8. Alabama State 10.8 12.33 10 10
9. Miles 10.8 22.33 4 6
10. Tuskegee 11.1 20.33 5 8

Boxtorow National Game of the Week — Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-2, 3-1) vs. Southern (3-3, 2-2)

When the season first began, no one would have believed that this matchup between the Golden Lions and the Jaguars could determine the outcome of the SWAC’s Western Division.  The winner of this game controls its own destiny with four games still remaining in the season.

Dray Joseph, quarterback for Southern University. // Photo courtesy of John Posey.

The Golden Lions last played in the SWAC championship game in 2006, and for the Jaguars who have won two championship games, their last appearance was a 40-35 loss in 2004 to an Alabama State led Tarvaris Jackson currently quarterbacking with the Buffalo Bills.

Since Southern fired head coach Stump Mitchell two games into the season, the Jaguars are 3-1 with their only loss coming to Alcorn State (who knocked off previously Alabama A&M last week) 20-17.  They have found their offensive aerial attack, led by quarterback Dray Joseph, who in that four-game stretch has completed 60 percent of his passes for 868 yards with eight touchdowns and just two interceptions.  Wide receivers Lee Doss (30-344-2) and Mike Berry (22-395-4) have been Joseph’s favorite targets.

Where the Jaguars continue to struggle on offense is in the running game, rushing for a conference low 64.3 yards per game.

Defensively, Southern is solid as a unit although they must do a better job in pass defense especially against UAPB.  Anthony Balancier had three sacks last week against Texas Southern and will need to bring that momentum into Saturday’s game.  The Jaguars do a fairly good job of stopping the run, giving up 129 yards per game which is second in the SWAC.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff is coming off a bye week and is refreshed after defeating Jackson State 34-24 two weeks ago.  The Golden Lions offense was one of the more balanced attacks although in their last two games they have run the ball 68 times and passed it 41.  Quarterback Ben Anderson has struggled a bit the last two games completing 16-of-41 passes for 212 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.  Overall however he is having a solid sophomore campaign and the one thing the Jaguars must account for is his ability to run the football as the team’s third leading rusher with 190 yards.

Speaking of rushing the football, the Golden Lions implement a two-back set with Dennis Jenkins (44-338-3) and Justin Billings (58-342-2).  As a team the Golden Lions rush for 182.3 yards per game and again the strength of the Jaguars defense is stopping the run.

Something has got to give.

Defensively, the Golden Lions are fairly strong overall which would be expected from a Monte Coleman-coached team.  They are second in the SWAC against the pass (again passing being the strength of the Jaguars).  Linebackers Bill Ross (65 tackles) and Jer-ryan Harris (52 tackles) are the team’s leading tacklers.

UAPB must also put pressure on Joseph and defensive end Brandon Thurmond has done a nice job of getting to opposing quarterbacks with eight sacks this season.