BIG Football Showdowns
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!
There are two HUGE games this Saturday involving the top three ranked teams in HBCU football and all three teams are ranked amongst the top five defenses in FCS (Football Championship Series). These matchups are arguably the two biggest in FCS with respective conference implications.
Bethune-Cookman, Tennessee State, and South Carolina State are ranked Nos. 1, 2, and 3 in the national HBCU coaches’ and media polls.
Bethune-Cookman head coach Brian Jenkins and South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pough will appear with me on Friday and Saturday on FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW. Listen on a station near you by clicking HERE.
South Carolina State (5-2, 3-0) vs. Bethune-Cookman (6-1, 3-0)
There are some other factors, and still four conference games remaining after these two teams meet Saturday, but this game could decide who wins the MEAC championship. Both teams are evenly matched and are 1 and 2 in most statistical categories in the conference. The game could come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and special teams will play a big factor. Both teams are very tough against the run. Both are mediocre when it comes to stopping the pass. The difference is SCSU averages close to 200 yards a game passing which bodes well for them. Quarterback Richard Cue must continue to do a solid job of protecting the ball (four interceptions this season). B-CU has the ability to throw the football and uses three quarterbacks who are very efficient (most notably Quinten Williams who leads the MEAC in efficiency). The Wildcats’ ratio of run to pass is almost 3-to-1, and with the Bulldogs having the sixth best rush defense in the nation, look for B-CU to have a more balanced attack. The key is they must protect the football as Wildcats quarterbacks have thrown six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Is it more of an advantage to have 16 days rest coming into this game? That is the question facing the Bulldogs who have not played a game since beating North Carolina Central 44-3 back on October 10 on national television. Head coach Buddy Pough doesn’t think so, but it does give his players time to heal from injury. The Wildcats have since played two games and won by a combined score of 75-27 (wins over Howard and Savannah State, respectively). SCSU is 30-9 in road games under Pough and have won the last three games in Daytona Beach, where it is homecoming for B-CU.
Eastern Illinois (6-1, 3-0) vs. Tennessee State (7-1, 4-0)
Tennessee State had the OVC title in its hands last year and lost three of its last four down the stretch. This is a different Tigers team who, since losing to Bethune-Cookman 12-9 to open the season, has reeled of seven-straight wins. The Tigers have gotten it done with defense. They are the No. 2 ranked defense in the nation giving up only 264 yards per game and is very opportunistic with 21 takeaways and 23 sacks. They are going to be even better than the numbers indicate. Eastern Illinois has the No.1 ranked offense in the country, averaging nearly 600 yards per game. Jimmy Garoppolo may be the top quarterback in FCS and has the numbers to prove it completing 67 percent of his passes for 2735 yards (nearly 400 yards per game) with 31 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He is aided by a solid running game that averages 188 yards per game. On the reverse side, both TSU’s offense and EIU’s defense is solid. The Tigers were using a two-quarterback system in Ronald Butler and Michael German, but German did not play in the Tigers last game due to injury and is doubtful for Saturday. TSU has a very good offensive line and a good running game led by Tim Broughton who is second in the OVC averaging 103 yards rushing per game. EIU’s has a bend-but-don’t-break defense as they give up 401 yards per game, but is second n points surrendered (24.3). It is homecoming in Nashville and the game will be played at LP Field, the stadium the Tigers share with the Tennessee Titans.
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