We have entered homecoming season in HBCU football, which also means we are entering the thick of the conference championship race.
However, more pressing matters could impact this weekend’s football games as Hurricane Ian travels through the east coast potentially putting some games in jeopardy and forcing some games to be rescheduled.
Only time will tell what further impact this storm will have this weekend and the season going forward.
In the meantime, here are the five games to watch in week five of the HBCU Football season.
1. Benedict at Fort Valley State
In a matchup that could determine who represents the SIAC East in the conference championship, the Benedict Tigers travel to Georgia to face the Fort Valley State Wildcats in their homecoming game.
If history is any indication, Fort Valley State should be the favorite to come away victorious as the Wildcats have beaten Benedict in nine of their last 11 meetings dating back to 2010.
The result was the same in their most recent matchup last season with Fort Valley State earning a 24-14 road victory.
Both teams have dynamic running backs that fans should watch for in Emmanuel Wilson of Fort Valley State and Zaire Scotland of Benedict.
In last year’s contest against Benedict, Wilson was a difference maker rushing for 122 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Through four games this season, he is ranked No. 1 in the SIAC in rushing yards per game (135.5) and rushing touchdowns (5).
Scotland, a transfer from Kennesaw State, has added a running threat to what was one of the most lethal pass offenses in the conference last season. He is averaging 78.2 rushing yards per game. The team is already more than halfway to equaling their rushing touchdown total from last season.
2. Prairie View A&M at Grambling State (State Fair Classic)
The Prairie View A&M Panthers look to extend their win streak to five games in the State Fair Classic when they face the Grambling State Tigers this Saturday at the Cottom Bowl in Dallas.
It’s been a struggle for Grambling State in the early going of the season, having lost its last two games to conference teams. GSU’s most recent loss came in a 36-19 road defeat against Bethune-Cookman.
Despite their loss, the Tigers recorded a season-high 461 yards of total offense against the Wildcats including 287 passing yards.
PVAMU is coming off its second conference win of the season after defeating Alabama State 24-15.
The defense also performed well against Alabama State recording five sacks and forcing three turnovers. Derrick Ray was the star of the defensive unit finishing with five tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, and a forced fumble.
Meanwhile, on offense, quarterback Trazon Connley was supremely efficient in his outing against the Hornets completing 14-of-19 pass attempts for 180 yards and scoring three total touchdowns (two rushing).
The Panthers will look to establish their running back duo Jaden Stewart and Ahmad Antoine opening up lanes for Connley to make plays in the passing game.
3. Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Southern
The Southern Jaguars are looking to get back in the win column when they welcome Arkansas-Pine Bluff in their conference home opener.
Both teams are coming off losses in their respective conference openers against Alcorn State and Texas Southern.
Southern took home the victory in its last game against the Golden Lions winning 34-7 on the road. However, the last time these teams played in Baton Rouge, UAPB came out victorious winning 33-30 in the 2021 spring season.
The biggest problem from the Jaguars in their loss to Texas Southern was converting in the red zone going 0-4 when within range. Quarterback Besean McCray also struggled with turning the ball over — throwing three interceptions in the game.
It was not all bad for Southern, however, as the Jags did have a good day running the ball amassing 189 rushing yards led by McCray with 95 yards.
Southern’s run game will be a key component to victory against a UAPB team with a strong rushing attack leading the conference with 12 rushing touchdowns and ranking third in the conference in rushing yards allowed (194.0).
UAPB running back Kayvon Britten had a strong performance against Alcorn State rushing for 110 yards on 18 attempts scoring two touchdowns.
4. Miles at Albany State
In the lone HBCU conference championship rematch this regular season, the Miles Golden Bears will go on the road looking for revenge against the Albany State Golden Rams.
These two teams matched up twice last season with Albany State winning both matchups by a combined score of 62-3. This includes a 31-0 shutout win by the Golden Rams in the SIAC Championship game.
Albany State kicked off its SIAC title defense shutting out Clark Atlanta 35-0. This is the Golden Rams’ seventh shutout win in the past two seasons.
Albany State punished CAU on the ground, rushing for 267 yards and scoring four touchdowns. ASU’s rushing attack is led by its duo of running backs Marcuis Fulks and Kamran Ward, along with quarterback Dionte Bonneau.
The Golden Bears are coming off their first win of the season in which they defeated Central State 34-14.
Miles running back Zarious Keyes had his best performance of the year so far rushing for 141 yards scoring his first two touchdowns of the season.
The Miles defense did a great job getting after the opposing quarterback, recording eight total sacks in the game. Two Golden Bear defenders, Jamichael Rogers and Roc Dowdell, each contributed two sacks.
5. Shaw at Virginia State
In a matchup of CIAA teams looking to extend their respective win streaks, the Shaw Bears go on the road to Petersburg to face the Virginia State Trojans.
Shaw has won each of its last two games after losing its first two. Meanwhile, Virginia State has won its last three after losing its season opener.
Quarterback Jordan Davis played well in his first start for the Trojans against Livingstone finishing with 251 passing yards completing 18-of-30 passes, scoring a touchdown along with two rushing touchdowns.
Running back Darius Hagans has been a consistent threat for Virginia State in the early going of the season coming off a 116-yard performance last weekend.
Last weekend, Shaw was the lone member of the CIAA South division to win its respective game defeating Elizabeth City State 35-16.
The Bears had their best performance on the ground of the season thus far against the Vikings recording 231 rushing yards. This included 70-yard rushing performances from their duo of running backs Andre Brandon Jr. and Sidney Gibbs respectively.
Shaw’s secondary is among the best in the CIAA leading the conference with four interceptions returning one for a touchdown.