Arlington, Texas— Winston-Salem State solidified its hold on the number one ranking in the Urban Sports News Black College Poll with its 38-18 victory over Elizabeth City State in the CIAA Conference Championship before 10,127 fans. The Rams ran their record to 11-0 and earned the number one seed in Super Region I of the NCAA D-II playoffs. WSSU will have this weekend off and will await the winner of Saturday’s game between Elizabeth City State and California (Pa.). The winner of that game will play the Rams at Bowman Gray Stadium at noon on Nov. 26. It is WSSU’s first appearance in the playoffs in 20 years.
“Our theme is ‘Return to Glory,’ and we are back to those glory days and back to winning rings,” coach Connell Maynor told the Winston-Salem Journal. “We are back to winning championships…. We had the little I-AA thing going there, but now we’re back in D-II, and I think everybody’s happy, Maynor said. His bosses, Chancellor Donald J. Reaves and athletics director Bill Hayes, certainly looked that way as they watched giddy fans dancing and swaying behind the bench.”
With the Elizabeth City, Alabama State, and Alabama A&M losses, the USN rankings underwent a shake-up. Winston-Salem State (10-0), Norfolk State (9-2), Jackson State (8-2), Bethune-Cookman (7-3), and Alabama State (7-3) now hold the top five spots in the USN Poll for Week 11. FAMU (7-3), Morehouse (8-2), Alabama A&M (7-3), Grambling (6-4), and Albany State (8-3) round out the next five positions in the USN Poll.
Norfolk State claimed its first outright MEAC title with their 49-14 pounding of Morgan State. “… let’s talk about history,” said Norfolk State Head Football Coach Pete Adrian. “When we came in (NSU) was at the bottom of the barrel. You have to build it. People weren’t breaking our doors down in 2005 wanting to come to Norfolk State.”
The 2011 season saw a shift in power in some conferences. MEAC powers Hampton, South Carolina State, Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman have losses to North Carolina A&T, Howard, and North Carolina State. SIAC power Albany State lost the conference title to Miles.
“I have covered Black College football for nearly twenty years,” said John Posey, CEO of Urban Sports News. “I have never seen some many upsets. Teams aren’t intimidated when they play the traditional powers. Who could have predicted Howard beating ranked Morehouse and FAMU or Stillman defeating Albany State or Southern upsetting Alabama State? I hope the pollsters recognize the power shift in their rankings.”
Elizabeth City dropped out of the Top 10 with its 38-18 loss to Winston-Salem State, but made the playoffs. Alabama A&M saw its seven game win streak end with its 34-6 loss to Jackson State while Albany State lost to Miles 20-17 in the SIAC Championship Game, but earned a playoff berth to the NCAA D-II Playoffs.
“The Prairie View-Alabama A&M game is huge. If Prairie View wins, the Panthers win the SWAC West and play in the conference game against Alabama A&M,” explained Posey. “If the Bulldogs win and Grambling beats Southern, those two teams will play for the conference crown. The Bulldogs are sending their band to PV to counteract the expected huge homecoming crowd.”
Must-see games to watch this week include: 1) Prairie View vs. Alabama A&M; 2) FAMU vs. Bethune; 3) Elizabeth City vs. California (PA); 4) Albany State vs. North Greenville; 5) Alcorn State vs. Jackson State; 6) and, North Carolina State vs. North Carolina Central.
||Winston-Salem State Rams
||Norfolk State Spartans
||Jackson State Tigers
||Alabama State Hornets
||Morehouse Maroon Tigers
||Alabama A&M Bulldogs
||Albany State Golden Rams
Dropped Out of Top 10: Elizabeth City. Moving Up: Bethune-Cookman, Grambling, Langston, South Carolina State. Trending Down: Albany State, Elizabeth City, Hampton, North Carolina A&T.
Others Receiving Consideration: Elizabeth City, Hampton, Howard, Langston, Miles, South Carolina State, and Stillman.