Southern Heritage Classic
Photo: Southern Heritage Classic

Week 2 of the HBCU football season is upon us and while there are not many games on tap with high stakes on the line when it comes to conference play, there are some great opportunities for teams to make huge statements.

This weekend is also important as there will be numerous FBS-HBCU matchups on Saturday.

In the SWAC, Alabama State will play No. 25 Auburn, Bethune-Cookman heads to Orlando to face UCF, Grambling State is at Southern Mississippi and Texas Southern travels to Waco to battle Baylor.

Also read: Deion Sanders, Eddie George are the five-star recruits modern HBCU football programs have long sought

Elsewhere, in the MEAC, Howard plays against Maryland, Norfolk State is at Wake Forest, North Carolina Central visits Marshall and Morgan State challenges Tulane in Birmingham, Alabama.

In addition to these matchups, there are plenty of other games that HBCU football fans should keep an eye on including one FCS-FBS game that stands out above the rest.

Here are the top four must-see games going down this weekend.

Miles at Southern

Both Miles and Southern come into their Week 2 matchup coming off completely different season-opening performances.

The Golden Bears fought valiantly against Alabama State, losing 14-13 in overtime while the Jaguars were dismantled 55-3 by Troy in Jason Rollins’ debut.

While Miles will be looking to show that they can hang with or beat an FCS opponent, Southern is vying for redemption.

Look for Southern’s star defensive end Jordan Lewis to assert himself early following a game in which he was seemingly nowhere to be found. For Miles, look out for their tandem of linebackers N’Ktavious Floyd and Mitchell Smiley to make an impact.

The theme of the day will be which offense establishes the run. Miles will be led by Donte Edwards. The redshirt junior rushed for 107 yards on 20 carries last week versus Alabama State. Southern will feature running back Devon Benn. He was held to just 56 all-purpose yards in the loss to Troy.

Clark Atlanta at Lane

Across the four major HBCU conferences, this is the only in-conference game taking place this weekend.

Clark Atlanta has won each of their last four matchups against Lane. Its most recent outing was in 2017, a 31-7 win by the Panthers.

However, Clark Atlanta has won just four games since, with three coming in the 2018 season as they finished 2019 at 0-10. Their win in the season opener against Livingstone last week was the program’s victory since November 2018 versus Morehouse.

Clark Atlanta’s defense carried them to victory over Livingstone forcing four turnovers, including three fumble recoveries.

The Panthers’ pass defense was spectacular holding Livingstone to minus-22 passing yards on 10 attempts.

Meanwhile, the Dragons lost 34-16 to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, scoring all of its points in the second quarter.

Quarterback Tarik McKinzie contributed each of the Dragons’ two touchdowns in the game, including a 59-yard connection to wide receiver O’Joshua Bunton.

For the Dragons to end their losing streak to Clark Atlanta, it will be McKinzie imposing his will on the game while the defense will need to contain him in order to keep the win streak alive.

South Carolina State at Clemson

Of all the FBS- FCS games taking place this weekend, none may be more important than the South Carolina State going up against College Football Playoff finalist Clemson.

The Bulldogs opened the season with a game of the year contender that ended in a 42-41 loss against reigning HBCU national champion Alabama A&M.

While Clemson will be an overwhelming favorite, this will be a great opportunity for South Carolina State to make a big impression against one of the top college football teams in the country.

Currently ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, is hoping to bounce back from a 10-3 loss to No. 2 Georgia.

This is a great opportunity for South Carolina State to gain national exposure, most importantly coming from pro scouts.

Jackson State at Tennessee State

A battle of the two teams with the marquee head coaching hires in Deion Sanders leading Jackson State and former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George in his first season at Tennessee State.

The last time these two teams met in the Southern Heritage Classic, Jackson State won a 49-44 thriller.

Jackson State opened its 2021 campaign with a 7-6 win over the Florida A&M in the revived Orange Blossom Classic.

While offense was hard to come by, true freshman quarterback Shedeur Sanders played well in his debut, throwing for 224 yards completing 75 percent of his passes. He scored the only touchdown in the game on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.

The JSU defense was the story of its Week 1 win, holding the Rattlers to under 300 yards of total offense.

Meanwhile, Tennessee State lost their season debut 16-10 to Grambling State in the Black College Hall of Fame Classic.

Despite the loss, freshman running back Devon Starling played well for Tennessee State finishing with 88 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts.


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