By Dr. J. Kenyatta Cavil and Brandon Bolden
Inside the HBCU Huddle Columnists
College Sporting News
The first matchup features one of the oldest classics in the country in the Turkey Day Classic with the No. 5 Alabama State Hornets hosting the Mid-Major Division II program of the Tuskegee Golden Tigers out of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) as the homecoming opponent on Thanksgiving’s Day.
The second matchup features the Mid-Major Division II program in the No. 1 Winston-Salem State Rams hosting California (PA).
The third matchup features the No. 1 Norfolk State Spartans, the lone NCAA Division I FCS HBCU playoff program based on earning the MEAC automatics bid. The Spartans will travel across town to face rival Old Dominion in the opening round of the Division I playoffs.
The final game featured this week is the national renowned Bayou Classic in New Orleans featuring the No. 9 Grambling State Tigers versus the Southern University Jaguars with the Battle of the Bands halftime showcase live on NBC. The ninth ranked Grambling State Tigers have much at stake because with a win they would earn the Western Division crown and a trip to the SWAC Championship Game in Birmingham, AL next week against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs. But with a loss, there is a four-way for the division between the two teams playing in the game along plus Prairie View A&M and Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the latter would earn the trip to play for the conference championship.
HBCU MAJOR DIVISION FOOTBALL TOP 10 POLL
Week 12 – Released 11/21/11
1. Norfolk State--(9-2)
2. Jackson State--(9-2)
4. Alabama A & M--(8-3)
5. Alabama State--(7-3)
6. S. C. State—(7-4)
8. Florida A & M--(7-4)
9. Grambling State--(6-4)
10. Arkansas Pine Bluff--(6-5)
@-Texas Southern--(4-7) = N/R
@ = TSPN & 3C 2010 HBCU Football Major Division National Champion
MEAC GAME OF WEEK
#1 Norfolk State (9-2, 7-1) at Old Dominion (HWCU, CAA) (9-2, 6-2)
After winning their first ever MEAC title, the Dr. Cavil’s HBCU Major Division No. 1 ranked Norfolk State Spartans are looking to mimic their recent success in the opening round of the FCS Tournament as they take on Old Dominion of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and end the long MEAC losing streak in the playoffs, since1991. Old Dominion enters into the matchup this Saturday on a 4-game win streak as the Monarchs rallied to beat William & Mary, 35-31, to finish the regular season. Monarchs RB, Angus Harper led the offensive charge rushing for 107 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns. Along with a power-running game the Monarchs also have the ability to air it out with QB, Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke completed 30 of 39 passes for 273 yards in Old Dominions’ last game. The matchup between these two teams this Saturday is set for a hard-nosed, low scoring football game as Old Dominions’ power-running game goes head-to-head with Norfolk’s stymie defense. The Spartans had the number one ranked defense in the MEAC. Norfolk States’ rushing attack is not a powder-puff either, averaging 168 yards per game on the ground this season. This Saturday will be the first time both teams will face each other on the gridiron.
Game Outcome: Norfolk State (Score 17-13)
SWAC GAME OF WEEK
#9 Grambling State (6-4, 5-3) vs Southern (4-6, 4-4)
With their destiny in their own hands and one win standing in between them and the SWAC Championship Game, Grambling State takes on Southern University in the World-Renowned Bayou Classic. Grambling State moved into first place last Saturday after the Bulldogs defeated the Panthers 17-15. Grambling QB, D. J. Williams threw his third touchdown pass with under two minutes remaining in regulation to put the Grambling State Tigers ahead for good, capping an 89-yard drive in their last game against the Texas Southern Tigers. Grambling State QB, Williams completed 14 of 19 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns. On the ensuing drive, QB, Riko Smalls led the Maroon & Grey Tigers all the way down to the Grambling’s 4-yard line before throwing an incomplete pass on 4th & goal closing the door shut on a Texas Southern comeback. Smalls finished the contest completing 31 of 50 passes 384 yards and three scores. Grambling State and Southern should be well rested for the Classic as both are coming off a bye week. In their last action, Southern denied the Alabama State Hornets the ability to clinch the SWAC Eastern Division. Grambling has made it through this season getting valuable play out of both quarterbacks, Frank Rivers and D. J. Williams, but it is still up in the air of which will get the nod to start against the Jaguars this Saturday. But, one thing that is for sure is that Grambling’s pass defense definitely has their work cut out for them as they try to stop the number two passing attack in the SWAC in Southern led by Jaguars QB, J. P. Douglas. Grambling is currently on a 5-game winning streak while Southern has dropped three of their last five. In their last season matchup, Grambling beat Southern like a doormat defeating the Jaguars, 38-17.
Game Outcome: Southern (Score 44-17)
HBCU CLASSIC GAME OF WEEK
(Mid-Major) Tuskegee (4-5, 4-3) at #4 Alabama State (7-3, 7-2)
With the door of opportunity closed to make the SWAC Title game, Alabama State looks to finish the season strong with a win against Tuskegee University in the annual homecoming Turkey Day Classic on Thanksgiving Day. Alabama State is coming off a heart-breaking loss as they were defeated by Southern, 26-23, two weeks ago. Southern RB, Brian McCain scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard rush with just nine seconds remaining capping off a 10-play, 73-yard drive for the Jags. The Hornets were outgained in total yards by the Jaguars 422-362. Hornets RB, Tim Clark rushed for 92 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns in the loss. This loss removed the Hornets out of the driver’s seat of SWAC Eastern division and placed them with an half game first place lead over Alabama A&M club (won the division with their 17-15 win over Prairie View A&M last Saturday) and Jackson State (ineligible) that holds the tie-breaker over them. Tuskegee looks to salvage their somewhat disappointing year and finish the season at .500 with a win. But with a loss this Saturday in Montgomery, AL, the Golden Tigers will experience their first losing season within three years. This game is a must win for the Hornets to finish strong as Alabama State has dropped two of their last three. In their meeting last season, Tuskegee edged Alabama State, 17-10. Tuskegee currently has a two-game winning streak against the Hornets.
Game Outcome: Alabama State (Score 27-17)
HBCU (MID)-MAJOR DIVISION GAME OF WEEK
(Bonus Game NCAA DII Playoffs)
California (PA) (9-2, 7-1) at #1 (Mid-Major) Winston-Salem State (11-0, 7-0)
Winston-Salem State University of the CIAA plays host to California University (PA) in the second round of the Super Region I bracket in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. WSSU are the heavy favorites to win the NCAA Division II Championship after mowing down the competition and finishing the regular season undefeated (11-0, 7-0). A very large part of the Rams success this season lied heavily on their ability to stop the run which ranked second among all Division II teams allowing only 74 yards per game. WSSU also proved to move the ball efficiently on the ground ranking 15th among all D-II schools. California (PA) is far from a slouch as they posted a 10-2 record, finishing the regular season winning five straight. Credit for the Vulcans stellar season can be attributed to their defense that ranks third amongst all D-II schools in total defense, allowing 259.50ypg. The Vulcans also rank third amongst D-II schools in scoring and Total Defense. Facing a defense of California’s (PA) caliber, WSSU might be forced to win the game through the air, which actually plays to the Vulcans weakness. California averages 204 yards through the air, which ranks 86th among NCAA Division II schools. Although going undefeated through the regular season, WSSU’s passing game is going to have to step up to the challenge to make it to the next round of the playoff tournament.
Game Outcome: Winston-Salem State (Score 34-21)