The countdown to conference championship season has reached a fever pitch as we enter the final week of the regular season in the CIAA and SIAC.
The CIAA championship game is already set with Bowie State going up against Fayetteville State for the third straight time.
There is still a lot of football to be played and a lot still to be settled across each conference.
Until then, here are the takeaways from week nine of the HBCU football season.
1. North Carolina A&T couldn’t win its homecoming game
There is arguably no HBCU more synonymous with homecoming than North Carolina A&T State University.
Dubbed the “Greatest Homecoming on Earth,” A&T has made a name for itself for being a must-see attraction during homecoming season.
As a result, the Aggies have done well on the gridiron riding a nine-game win streak in homecoming games.
However, that all changed when the Aggies faced Monmouth in their first homecoming since joining the Big South, losing 35-16.
This was A&T’s first homecoming loss since 2010 when the Aggies lost to Morgan State. After starting off their conference schedule on a high note, things have gone off the rails for the Aggies losing each of their last three games.
This is the first time NCAT has lost three straight games in a regular-season since 2013.
With three games remaining on the schedule, North Carolina A&T will look to avoid finishing with a record below .500 in a season for the first time since 2011.
The Aggies will begin their quest to finish with a record above .500 when they go on the road to play Charleston Southern.
2. Alcorn State was unable to tie Prairie View A&M in the SWAC West division
Going into their road matchup against the Southern Jaguars, the Alcorn State Braves had a chance to tie the Prairie View A&M Panthers (idle this weekend) at the top of the SWAC West with a win.
The Braves entered the game 4-0 in conference play and were looking to keep their hopes of winning their third SWAC championship in four years.
While Southern has had a disappointing season, the Jags were still in the mix at 2-2 needing a win to have a chance at winning the division.
Saturday’s game went down to the wire with Southern pulling off the upset win on a Luke Jackson 47-yard field goal with one second left.
Despite the loss, Alcorn State still controls its destiny in representing the SWAC West in the SWAC Championship Game. The Braves are scheduled to face Prairie View on Nov. 13. in a game that could be key in determining the SWAC West Division champion.
However, in a dramatic twist, if Alcorn State and Prairie View both lose this weekend and Alcorn State defeats Prairie View on Nov. 13 the following weekend, and if Southern wins each of its next three games, then the Jags will have made the ultimate comeback to potentially clinch the division.
This is why HBCU football is so exciting because anything truly can happen in any given week.
Also read: Bowie State moves up in national Division II rankings after clinching CIAA North
3. South Carolina State earned a crucial win over North Carolina Central
The MEAC is fresh into its conference schedule with this past weekend being just the second full week of conference games.
Prior to the trio of games, only three teams stood with unbeaten conference records: Norfolk State, South Carolina State, and North Carolina Central.
That all changed when South Carolina State went on the road to face North Carolina Central and walked away with a 27-24 victory.
This was the third time in the last four matchups on North Carolina Central’s home field that South Carolina State has won the game including winning each of the last two.
The Bulldogs are now one of two teams still undefeated in conference play as Norfolk State was also victorious defeating Morgan State 31-20.
Should both South Carolina State and Norfolk State remain unbeaten until the final week of the season, they will face each other in Norfolk, Virginia with the MEAC up for grabs.
4. Albany State clinched the SIAC East and there is a three-way tie in SIAC West
While the CIAA championship game has been solidified, only one-half of the SIAC has been decided.
By virtue of Albany State’s 14-0 win over Morehouse this past weekend and Savannah State’s win over Fort Valley State, the Golden Rams have clinched a spot in the SIAC championship game.
Last week, Albany State defeated Savannah State to break the tie at the top of the SIAC East division. Had Fort Valley State beat Savannah, the Wildcats would have faced off against Albany in the final week of the season with a chance to secure a spot in the title game.
While the SIAC East has been figured out, the SIAC West has yet to be decided with there being a three-way tie between Miles, Kentucky State and Lane.
Each team secured wins last weekend with Kentucky State and Lane each gaining conference victories over Tuskegee and Central State respectively, while Miles won over Edward Waters.
This weekend, Miles will face Tuskegee at home, Kentucky State will host Central State and Lane will go on the road to face Benedict.
The scenarios in the SIAC West are as follows going into the final week of the regular season:
(1) Miles clinches with a win
(2) Kentucky State clinches with a win and a Miles loss
(3) Lane clinches with a win and losses from Miles and Kentucky State
Miles is looking to secure its third-straight conference title, while Kentucky State is looking for its first conference championship appearance since 2016 and Lane is looking for its first in over 10 years.
5. Chowan snapped a three-game losing streak
Through the first five games of the season, it looked like Chowan was on a collision course to steamroll through the CIAA on its way to its first conference title.
The Hawks were the last team to lose a game in the conference going 5-0, averaging over 50 points per game peaking with a 73-7 win over Winston-Salem State.
However, their hopes were dashed by a 14-3 loss to Bowie State and continued to lose against Virginia Union and Elizabeth City State in the following weeks.
Fortunately for the Hawks, they were able to snap their three-game slide defeating Virginia State 38-30.
Not only was this a huge win for Chowan to snap a three-game losing streak, but this was Chowan’s second win over Virginia State in the past three years after previously losing five straight to the Trojans.
Chowan will have a chance to end the season on a high note when it faces the Lincoln Lions at home.