Aqeel Glass, Alabama A&M
Photo: Alabama A&M Athletics

After an exciting week five that saw some exciting action filled with huge upsets, lopsided games, and a near-epic come back, we head into week six filled with important matchups.

One game not featured on this list will be the first MEAC conference game this season when the Morgan State Bears face the Howard Bison on Friday night.

The last time these two teams played against each other Howard won in spectacular fashion scoring a game-winning touchdown with 32 seconds remaining to secure a 20-15 win.

Also, the Grambling State Tigers will look to build off their upset win over defending SWAC champion Alabama A&M when they face the 2019 champion Alcorn State Braves Saturday.

The last time Alcorn State lost a conference game was against Grambling State in 2019 when the Tigers secured a 19-16 overtime win.

As far as the games that will be featured, we take a look at a pair of CIAA games that could determine the conference championship participants; a matchup between former conference opponents and the most must-see game of the season.

Here are the five best HBCU football games to watch in week six.

Bowie State (4-1, 2-1 CIAA) at Chowan (5-0, 2-0 CIAA)

Week 6 is crucial in the CIAA as the top two teams in the Southern and Northern division will face off matchups that could determine who represents their respective divisions in the conference championship game.

We begin in the CIAA North as the Bowie State Bulldogs travel to Murfreesboro, North Carolina to face the lone undefeated team in the conference; the Chowan Hawks.

Bowie State has won four of its last five meetings against Chowan including winning its last matchup 64-17 in its homecoming game in the 2019 season.

The Bulldogs are currently on a 13-game conference win streak with their last loss coming on Oct. 6, 2018, ironically against the Hawks.

Both teams are coming off dominant wins with Bowie State defeating Johnson C. Smith 44-7 in its homecoming game while Chowan demolished Winston-Salem State 73-7.

This is a matchup of the top offensive team in the CIAA in Chowan going up against the top defensive team in Bowie State.

Chowan is the most improved team in the CIAA this season sitting at 5-0 already surpassing a 3-7 record in the 2019 season. The Hawks have been on an offensive tear averaging a CIAA-leading 51.4 points per game scoring 40 points or more in each of their last four games.

The Hawks’ success can be attributed to the play of quarterback Bryce Witt who is certainly the frontrunner for the CIAA Offensive Player of the Year award.

Witt is leading the CIAA in passing yards (314.6), passing touchdowns (20), pass efficiency rating (182.8), and completion percentage (68.5). In addition, he also leads the conference with eight rushing touchdowns.

Alongside Witt has been his two top targets Laurence King and Imeek Watkins who are each the top two in the conference in receptions and receiving touchdowns. King leads the CIAA in receiving yards per game with 114.2 while Watkins in sixth with 68.2.

The Hawks defense is no slouch either leading the CIAA with 23 sacks and allowing the third-lowest total offensive yards per game at 253.2. Chowan is the only team in the CIAA with two players in the top 5 in sacks (Isaac Anderson and Rafiq Abdul-Wahid).

Meanwhile, it has been the Bulldogs defense that has pushed the team to success tied for the lowest points allowed per game at 14.2 while leading in yards allowed with 159.6.

Bowie’s defense is loaded from top to bottom as they are the only team that has recorded at least 15 sacks and five interceptions so far this season. Their best asset has been their pass defense only giving up two touchdowns through the air this season.

In addition, the Bulldogs have given up the lowest pass efficiency rating and the second-lowest completion percentage in the CIAA.

They are also very good at defending the run giving up the second-fewest rushing yards per game and the lowest yards per attempt in the conference.

There is not much more that could be said to sell the importance of this game just know this game is pivotal and will be entertaining to boot.

Fayetteville State (3-1, 2-0 CIAA) at Shaw (3-2, 2-0 CIAA)

In the CIAA South, the reigning three-time division champion Fayetteville State Broncos look to defend their crown when they face the Shaw Bears on the road.

Both of these teams are not only the last remaining unbeaten teams in conference play in their division, they are not only the last remaining unbeaten teams in conference play in their division, they are the only teams in their division that have won a game.

Shaw is coming off a 27-7 road win over the Virginia Union Panthers while Fayetteville State defeated the Lincoln (PA) Lions 46-9.

Fayetteville State has won each of its last six games against Shaw with the Bears last defeating the Broncos in 2013.

The last time these two teams faced off, the Broncos won 25-22 giving them the tiebreaker over Shaw at the end of the season to clinch their third straight CIAA championship appearance.

One key difference between that game and this one is Shaw will have 2018 CIAA Defensive Player of the Year Devon Hunt who missed the contest after suffering a season-ending injury in 2019.

Also read: Shaw University linebacker Devon Hunt selected to HBCU Legacy Bowl

The key to this game will be Shaw’s number one run offense against Fayetteville State’s number one run defense.

Shaw has the top run offense in the CIAA averaging 192.0 rushing yards per game scoring a CIAA leading 14 rushing touchdowns.

The Bears led by running back Sidney Gibbs leads the CIAA in rushing averaging 89.2 yards per game and is tied for second with five rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, the Bears are second in the CIAA allowing just 16.5 points per game while allowing the third-fewest passing yards per game.

Shaw linebacker and 2018 CIAA Defensive Player of the Year Devon Hunt has played well returning from injury leading the conference with 60 total tackles.

As for Fayetteville State’s defense, they are the only team in the CIAA that has scored touchdowns on two interceptions this season.

Defensive end Keyshawn James is the Broncos’ anchor tied for second in the CIAA with 9.0 tackles for loss and tied for third with 5.0 sacks.

The Broncos are no slouch on offense holding the second-highest scoring total in the CIAA averaging 35.5 points while gaining the second most total offensive yards at 405.0 per game.

Quarterback Khari Lane is second in the conference averaging 271.0 passing yards per game with the second highest completion percentage of 65.0%.

Benedict (2-3, 0-3 SIAC) at Miles (2-3, 1-1 SIAC)

The Benedict Tigers will look to get back into the win column when they face the defending SIAC champion Miles Golden Bears on the road.

Benedict has lost each of its last three games; all coming against SIAC opponents (Savannah State, Kentucky State and Fort Valley State).

Meanwhile, Miles is looking to recover after suffering its first conference loss to Albany State on its home field getting blown out 31-3.

Benedict has lost each of its last five games against Miles with its last win coming in October 2010.

The Tigers have one of the top offenses in the conference averaging 33.0 points per game and 400 yards of total offense.

Their calling card has been their passing attack leading the SIAC averaging 269.0 passing yards per game while also averaging 130.6 yards on the ground.

Quarterback Eric Phoenix is not only the teams top passer, but he also leads the Tigers scoring four rushing touchdowns.

Their struggle has been defending the run as they allow the most rushing yards of any team in the SIAC giving up 214.4 yards per game.

However, the Tigers do have the best pass defense in the SIAC allowing just 117.8 passing yards per game and just two touchdowns.

Defensive back Joshua Heyward is among the SIAC leaders with five passes defended with one interception on the season.

Miles, on the other hand, has the second-best pass defense in the conference allowing 118.2 passing yards per game while also only giving up two touchdowns.

The Golden Bears are second in the conference allowing just 10.8 points and 283.3 offensive yards per game.

On offense, the Golden Bears have one of the top run games in the conference ranking third with 185.8 rushing yards per game.

Golden Bears running back Donte Edwards is the second leading rusher in the conference averaging 86.0 yards on the ground.

This has the potential to produce fireworks as Benedict is looking to snap their three-game slide and Miles looking to bounce back from their first conference loss.

The beauty of this game is that it could go either way beyond just deciding a winner or loser. This could be a high or low scoring game, a down-to-the-wire finish, or a one-sided blowout. It is truly unpredictable.

South Carolina State (1-3, 0-0 MEAC) at Florida A&M (2-2, 1-1 SWAC)

After nearly giving up a monumental comeback against former MEAC rival Bethune-Cookman, the South Carolina State Bulldogs go on the road to face another former MEAC team; this time in the Florida A&M Rattlers.

The last time these two teams played against each other, they had a game of the year candidate ending with the Rattlers taking a 42-38 win snapping a six-hame losing streak over South Carolina State.

In each of South Carolina State’s two games against FCS opponents, the Bulldogs have combined for 83 points with nine of their 11 rushing touchdowns in those contests coming on the ground.

Running back Kendrell Flowers leads the MEAC with six rushing touchdowns while sitting at third with 63.8 rushing yards per game.

Meanwhile, quarterback Corey Fields leads averaging 252.8 passing yards per game though he also has thrown the most interceptions in the conference. His top target Will Vereen averages a MEAC-best 85.8 receiving yards per game while ranking second with 5.0 receptions per game.

The Bulldogs defense has been below average allowing 41.8 points per game and 464.8 offensive yards per game.

Despite the defensive struggles, defensive back Decobie Durant has been amongst the top defenders in the MEAC recording two interceptions and seven passes defended.

In contrast, Florida A&M has been one of the top defensive teams in all of FCS ranking ninth allowing 13.0 points per game and 13th allowing 284.2 total offensive yards per game.

The FAMU defense is run through defensive end Deonte Williams along with their tandem of linebackers Markquese Bell and Isaiah Land. Together they combine for 10 of the team’s 11 sacks.

The Rattlers have one of the top rushing attacks in the SWAC ranking fourth averaging 132.0 rushing yards per game led by their backfield duo of Bishop Bonnett and Terrell Jennings.

Jackson State (3-1, 1-0 SWAC) at Alabama A&M (3-1, 1-1 SWAC)

The Alabama A&M Bulldogs will look to recover from their surprising loss against Grambling State last week when they face their SWAC East division rival Jackson State Tigers.

This is arguably the most anticipated game of the HBCU football season, and for good reason, as the matchup in the spring was an incredible shootout ending with the Bulldogs walking away with a 52-43 win.

While Jackson State is coming off an idle week, Alabama A&M is looking to rebound from what was the team’s first loss in 23 months.

The Bulldogs have the top offense in the SWAC averaging 36.3 points and 490.8 offensive yards per game.

Aqeel Glass is making a good case for a second straight Deacon Jones trophy ranking fifth in the FCS with 14 passing touchdowns and sixth with 1,511 passing yards. He is aided by the SWAC’s two top receivers Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim and Odieu Hilaire.

Also, Alabama A&M running back Gary Quarles is sixth in the FCS averaging 113.2 rushing yards per game and is second in the SWAC with four rushing touchdowns.

Defense has been a struggle for the Bulldogs as they are ninth in the SWAC allowing 35.0 points per game. Their one bright spot has been safety Trenell Troutman who leads the SWAC with three interceptions and is third with 6.0 tackles for loss.

Jackson State, on the other hand, has the top defense in the SWAC allowing just 12.8 points per game and 246.3 offensive yards per game. Its defense is run through the tandem of linebackers James Houston and Aubrey Miller.

Houston leads the SWAC with 7.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks while Miller leads the SWAC with 11.7 tackles per game and is sixth with 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.

In contrast to Alabama A&M, Jackson State’s offense ranks ninth in the SWAC in scoring, eighth in offensive yards and last in rushing yards.

The one positive on offense for J-State has been its passing game sitting at second in the conference in passing yards per game. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders has shined in his first season with the team holding the fourth highest completion percentage in FCS at 71.6% and in the top 20 with a 151.71 pass efficiency rating.

This is sure to be another shootout in a game that holds real stakes for who will represent the SWAC East in the conference championship game.


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