We are in clinching season with many HBCU football teams looking to punch their ticket in to their conference title game.
Both Bowie State and Fayetteville State have a chance to secure a third straight CIAA championship matchup when they face Lincoln (PA) and Livingstone respectively.
Meanwhile, Jackson State will look to get one step closer to the SWAC championship game when the Tigers collide with Mississippi Valley State.
Kentucky State and Tuskegee will look to remain alive in the SIAC West when they clash while Lane will look to do the same against Central State.
While there is a lot of excitement around those games, there were a few others that stood out above the rest.
Here are five HBCU football games to watch in week 9.
1. Alabama State Hornets at Alabama A&M Bulldogs (Magic City Classic)
In the lone true rivalry game this weekend, the Alabama State Hornets and the Alabama A&M Bulldogs will clash in the Magic City Classic.
While history is on Alabama A&M’s side, having won four of the last five contests against the Hornets, these teams have been involved in numerous down-to-the-wire matchups.
In 2014, the Bulldogs came back from a two-possession deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Alabama State 37-36. After the Hornets got revenge the next year beating A&M 35-20, A&M returned the favor right back nearly giving up a two-touchdown lead to win in overtime.
More recently, in 2019, the Bulldogs and Hornets had another overtime thriller with Alabama State falling a two-point conversion short in a 43-41 loss.
The last time these two teams played, Alabama A&M walked away victorious defeating Alabama State 38-14 during the spring season.
Both teams will be looking to salvage what has been disappointing seasons with the reigning SWAC champion Bulldogs currently 1-3 in conference play and the Hornets are 2-2 in the conference.
Although the season is not over and both teams are still technically in the race for the SWAC title, both teams will need a lot to go their way for them to have a chance at clinching a berth in the conference championship game starting with winning this matchup on Saturday.
2. Alcorn State Braves at Southern Jaguars
The Alcorn State Braves look to keep their hopes of regaining their SWAC West title alive when they go on the road to face the Southern Jaguars.
Currently 4-0 in conference games, Alcorn State is looking to keep pace with Prairie View A&M who is 5-0 and will be idle this week.
The Jaguars have struggled as of late losing two of their last three conference games including a 35-31 upset loss against Texas Southern
The Jags will be looking to play spoiler against Alcorn after getting trounced by Prairie View on their home field 48-21 last Saturday
Unfortunately for Southern, getting a win over Alcorn State has proven difficult over the years with SU’s last win coming in 2016.
Southern has lost nine of its last 10 games against Alcorn State (not counting SU’s forfeit win in the spring) including the 2014 and 2019 SWAC championship game.
3. Grambling State Tigers at Florida A&M Rattlers
Completing the hat trick of SWAC games this weekend, the Grambling State Tigers will travel to Tallahassee, Florida to face the Florida A&M Rattlers for the first time since the Rattlers joined the SWAC.
FAMU is looking to stay in the running for the SWAC East crown in its first season in the conference, needing to win out and hope for two Jackson State losses.
On paper, this does not look like it will be a competitive game seeing as Florida A&M is one of the top defenses in the SWAC and Grambling has one of the worst offenses.
However, despite their faults, the Tigers have played very well against the SWAC’s top teams this season.
This includes giving Prairie View A&M a run for its money, an upset 37-28 win over Alabama A&M, and falling short of an 18-point comeback against Alcorn State.
Grambling State is a team no one should sleep on as the Tigers fight hard whether they are a heavy favorite or a heavy underdog.
The Tigers will have their work cut out for them going against a Florida A&M team that has not missed a beat in its transition from the MEAC to the SWAC.
Not only is this Florida A&M’s homecoming game, but this is also Senior Day, bringing the emotion that comes with this game to another level.
4. South Carolina State Bulldogs at North Carolina Central Eagles
A team loses its “0” in MEAC conference play as the South Carolina State Bulldogs play against the North Carolina Central.
South Carolina State became the first team to win two conference games in the MEAC last week when they knocked off Delaware State while NorthCarolina Central won their conference opener against Morgan State.
This will be the first time these two teams have played each other since the Bulldogs shutout the Eagles 24-0 in 2019, snapping a three-game losing streak against them.
South Carolina State won that game in spite of a horrible performance by quarterback Corey Fields who completed just five of 22 pass attempts for 42 yards.
Starting running back Kendrell Flowers will look to play the role of Labron Morris (who finished with 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the win) this time around powering his team to victory.
The run game will be key for South Carolina State, which has scored the second-most rushing touchdowns in the conference with 12. North Carolina Central has allowed the fewest rushing TDs in the conference with just eight.
Another key in this matchup will be penalties as both of these teams have committed the most in the MEAC.
5. Savannah State Tigers at Fort Valley State Wildcats
In the lone Division II matchup on this list, the Savannah State Tigers and the Fort Valley State Wildcats will face off to remain in the race for the SIAC East crown.
Savannah State took a slight step back in its hopes for clinching a berth in the SIAC championship when the Tigers were shut out 30-0 by the Albany State Golden Rams.
Meanwhile, Fort Valley State bounced back after getting trounced by Morehouse the previous week beating Clark Atlanta 40-7.
This game is most critical for Fort Valley State. If the Wildcats win, they will advance to a clash in the final week of the regular season against Albany State (whether they win or lose their game against Morehouse) for the division.
Whereas, if Savannah State wins and Albany State wins, the Golden Rams will have already clinched its spot in the conference title game due to its head-to-head win over the Savannah State.
While these two teams have split their last four meetings dating back to 2010, the Tigers won convincingly the last time they faced each other handing the Wildcats a 53-24 loss.
However, this game will be played on Fort Valley State’s home field where the Wildcats have not lost an in-conference game since 2018 (although they did lose to Lane on their home field, but it was not listed as a conference loss).
This is sure to be an exciting game along with a full slate of HBCU football games with a lot to play for going forward.