Howard football helmet
Photo: Howard Athletics

As we head into week three of the HBCU football season, we are inching closer and closer before conference schedules begin across the four major conferences.

The CIAA and SIAC will have the majority of in-conference games next week with only Tuskegee facing a non-conference opponent.

This weekend will see its fair share of conference games primarily coming from the SIAC while there will be some interesting Division II vs FCS matchups and a fierce rivalry game on tap.

Here are the five must-see HBCU football games this weekend.

Benedict at Savannah State

In their first playoff eligible season back in the SIAC, the Savannah State Tigers kick off their conference schedule when they host the Benedict Tigers.

The last time these two teams played against each other, Savannah State

After getting trounced 53-7 by the Valdosta State Blazers, the Savannah bounced back defeating the Livingstone Blue Bears 50-6 in their home opener.

The Tigers tallied 347 rushing yards as a team on 67 attempts with four players recording 50 rushing yards or more.

Quarterback Jamurian “JT” Hartage led the team with 62 rushing yards scoring a touchdown while adding 164 passing yards on 6-of-8 passing with two passing touchdowns.

They will go up against a Benedict Tigers team that is one of only two teams in the SIAC that has yet to lose a game so far this season.

Benedict’s two wins have come against the Allen Yellow Jackets and the Edward Waters Tigers by a combined score of 89-15.

In contrast, it has been Benedict’s passing game that has carried their offense with quarterback Eric Phoenix captaining the ship. He is averaging 242.5 passing yards per game completing 67.6% of his passes and has thrown seven touchdown passes through two games.

Although Savannah State will come into the game as the favorite, this has the potential to be an exciting back-and-forth offensive affair.

Also read: Five takeaways from Week 2 of the HBCU football season

Miles at Morehouse

After putting up good performances against SWAC teams in their first two games, the reigning SIAC champion Miles Golden Bears open up their conference schedule in a road matchup against the Morehouse Maroon Tigers.

Miles has won four of its last five games against Morehouse with the last meeting ending with the Golden Bears winning 45-21 on their home field.

Miles opened the season with a close overtime loss to the Alabama State Hornets followed by a loss to SWAC West’s favorite Southern Jaguars.

While the Golden Bears lost by a wider margin against Southern, they had a much better offensive performance recording 402 yards of total offense to 205 against Alabama State.

Morehouse, on the other hand, has had a rough start to the season losing each of its first two games by a combined score of 95-7.

Coming into the season as a potential sleeper pick in the SIAC, the Maroon Tigers have struggled to move the ball downfield on offense only converting 12 first downs through two games.

Morehouse Preseason All-SIAC quarterback Mike Sims and All-SIAC running back Santo Dunn will look to help get their offense going against a Miles defense headlined by Preseason All-SIAC linebackers Mitchell Smiley and N’Ktavious Floyd.

Edward Waters at Tuskegee

Tuskegee will look to recover from its struggles to begin the season as they host the Edward Waters Tigers.

The Golden Tigers have had trouble taking care of the ball so far this season committing nine turnovers. In its shutout loss in the season opener against Fort Valley State, Tuskegee fumbled the ball seven times losing four of them.

Tuskegee has struggled to get its run game going that was successful in the 2019 season only tallying 93 rushing yards on 70 attempts. Look for the Golden Tigers to establish their ground game early.

After a disappointing 2019 season that saw them finish with a 1-10 record, Edward Waters has started the season on a high note splitting their first two games.

The Tigers won their season opener against Florida Memorial; the program’s first win in a season opener since 2012. They were unable to replicate that success in their second game losing 44-3 against Benedict.

The difference between EWU’s win and loss was its ability to establish the run recording 213 rushing yards on 45 attempts against Florida Memorial in contrast to just 78 on 33 attempts against Benedict.

Like Tuskegee, EWU had trouble taking care of the ball committing seven turnovers so far this season including five against Florida Memorial with three coming via interception.

Winston-Salem State at North Carolina Central Eagles

The Winston Salem-State Rams renew an old rivalry this Saturday when they go on the road to Durham, North Carolina to face the North Carolina Central Eagles.

The last time these two teams faced each other was in the last year of Winston-Salem State’s brief stint in the MEAC in 2010 with the Rams walking away with the 34-27 victory.

While the Rams controlled the series winning eight of the 12 matchups including the most recent, it was the Eagles that ended the series, winning four of the last six games.

This will be Winston-Salem’s second game this season after their planned season opener against UNC Pembroke was canceled due to COVID protocols. They kicked off the season last week with a 28-6 loss to the Catawba Indians.

Not too much went right for the Rams only producing 237 yards of total offense including just 127 passing yards. They struggled to convert on third down, only being successful on two of 11 attempts.

Winston-Salem also struggled in the red zone failing to put the ball in the end zone in all three appearances settling for field goals on two attempts.

This carries over WSSU’s struggles from the 2019 season on the offensive end when the Rams ranked toward the bottom of the CIAA in scoring. It will be their defense to look out for in this game against the Eagles.

The Eagles kicked off their season on a high note defeating the Alcorn State Braves in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. They were, unfortunately, unable to do the same in their second game against the Marshall Thundering Herd.

The run game of North Carolina Central on offense, and their secondary on defense, will be the keys to victory for them. Also, don’t be surprised if NCCU’s return specialist Brandon Codrington returns a kickoff or punt for a touchdown.

Also read: ‘It tears the morale down:’ HBCU football coaches talk cost-benefit analysis of playing money games

Hampton at Howard

There is no rivalry in all of HBCU lure better than the Battle of the Real HU between the Howard Bison and the Hampton Pirates.

These two teams first faced off against each other in 1908 and have been playing against each other almost every year since.

The Pirates have seized control of the series in recent years winning each of the last four meetings and 18 of the last 22 since 1997.

This will be the first matchups between these two teams to be played in Washington, D.C. since 2016 that saw Hampton come away with a 34-7 victory.

Howard is looking for its first win over Hampton since 2014 which was also played in D.C.

In terms of on the field, look for Hampton to get its run game going behind Hampton’s tandem of backs Darran Butts and Elijah Burris. On defense lookout for linebacker KeShaun Moore and defensive back Caleb Brown.

For Howard, running back Jarrett Hunter and quarterback Quinton Williams should be on the offensive radar. The Bison defense will be headed by their tandem of defensive backs Kenny Gallop and Carson Hinton.



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