College football season officially gets underway in the Black College Football world with HBCU teams playing in a pair of nationally televised contests. Defending Black National Champion North Carolina A&T opens the season versus a ranked FCS opponent and  SWAC coach makes a debut in a new position.

This week …

Prairie View A&M at Rice

6 p.m. Saturday, ESPN+

Three things to know about Rice …

• The Owls have a new head coach. Stanford assistant Mike Bloomgren takes over a program that went 1-11 in last season.

• They’re on a losing streak. Rice has lost 10 consecutive games dating back to last season. Its lone win was a 31-14 win at UTEP.

• The Owls feature a former MEAC coach. Jerry Mack, who led North Carolina Central to three MEAC championships and Celebration Bowl appearance, is the team’s offensive coordinator.

Three things to know about Prairie View …

PVAMU Athletics

• Eric Dooley takes over. After spending more than 20 years as an assistant in the SWAC, Dooley will make his debut as a first-year head coach. The last time first-year head coaches made their debuts against each other was in 1982 when California’s Joe Knapp met Colorado’s Bill McCartney.

• This is first of six consecutive road games for the Panthers. In an odd scheduling occurrence, Prairie View will play its first six games of the regular season away from Panther Stadium. The Panthers, though, will end the season with four of its last five games at home.

• They’ve been winners. After finishing 2017 with its third straight winning season, the Panthers own the second most victories in the SWAC (72) since 2007. Only Grambling State — with 83 — has more during that span.

Prediction: Rice 31, Prairie View 19

No. 6 Jacksonville State vs. No. 14 North Carolina A&T

6 p.m. Saturday, ESPN

Three things to know about Jacksonville State …

NCA&T Athletics

• They will have a new quarterback under center this year. Head coach John Crass hasn’t named a starter yet for the season opener. It will likely come down to Redshirt sophomore Zerrick Cooper, a Clemson transfer, or Redshirt freshman Zion Webb.

The Gamecocks have five preseason All-Americans. They are junior safety Marlon Bridges, senior offensive linemen B.J. Autry and Tyler Scozzaro, senior defensive lineman Randy Robinson and junior long snapper
Josh Brady.

JSU is on a long conference winning streak. The Gamecocks have won 32 straight Ohio Valley Conference games. It’s the longest such streak in Division I football.

Three things to know about North Carolina A&T…

In comes Sam Washington. The former Aggies defensive coordinator was named head coach following the 2017 season upon the retirement of Rod Broadway.

When Raynard starts, the Aggies are literally unbeatable. In the 26 games, Lamar Raynard has started at quarterback, North Carolina A&T has yet to lose.

The last loss was 636 days ago. North Carolina A&T was beaten by Richmond 39-10 in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

Prediction: North Carolina A&T 20, Jacksonville State 17


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