Week 1 was an exciting one on the field and a rude awakening for me as a predictor. There were a few surprises this past Labor Day weekend, including three D-II schools knocking off their D-I opponents. Now we get to Week 2, where a few D-I HBCUs will look competitive and healthy against FBS opponents while the D-IIs will be battling each other and comparable competition from out of conference. Before I share the top games of the week and the rest of this week’s slate, let’s take a quick look back at last week’s picks.
Last week’s Record: 21-12
Overall record: 21-12
Best Pick: Virginia State 30, Norfolk State 20 (Virginia State won 33-24).
Worst Pick: tie between Richmond 38, Morgan State 24 (Morgan State won 17-10 – Happy to be wrong), and Delaware State 24, Bowie State 21 (Bowie State won 22-11).
Game Of The Week: Tuskegee (1-0, 1-0 SIAC) at Kentucky State (1-0, 1-0 SIAC), Saturday September 9, 1 p.m. EST
Both teams’ offensive wares were on full display in wins last week as Kentucky State debuted Felton Huggins Jr.’s Air Raid offense with 34 points against Clark Atlanta, while Tuskegee had just enough big plays to hold off Fort Valley State in the Red Tails Classic 37-31.
Kentucky State quarterback Christian Perez was a dual threat against the Panthers, throwing for 208 yards and rushing for 74. Four different ball carriers scored rushing touchdowns for the Thorobreds, who outgained CAU 404 yards to 208.
In their first game under new head coach and former TU quarterback Aaron James, the Golden Tigers built a 20-point lead against FVSU, but two touchdowns late and a final Wildcat drive had Tuskegee sweating out some anxious moments.
As mentioned before, the SIAC’s return to a one-division format makes every game crucial. Can the Golden Tigers continue their road back to the SIAC title game, or will a new sheriff be wearing green and gold in town?
Prediction: Tuskegee 45, Kentucky State 35
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-1) vs. Tennessee State (0-1) at the Southern Heritage Classic, Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee, Saturday September 9, 1 p.m. EST
Last week was an FBS education for both teams as UAPB and Tennessee State played well to start, but the collective talent of Tulsa and Notre Dame eventually overwhelmed each school.
Now, both teams head into the Southern Heritage Classic looking to erase the Week 1 memories and move forward on a winning note. The Golden Lions, under returning head coach Alonzo Hampton, showed considerable fire in opening up an early 7-0 lead against the Golden Hurricanes, and you can expect more of the same this week.
Tennessee State made history in South Bend last week as the first FCS school and HBCU to face Notre Dame in football. A 3-0 lead quickly turned into a runaway for the Fighting Irish, but Eddie George and his Tigers have nothing to be ashamed of. How quickly each team can get over the Guarantee Game Blues will likely determine the winner.
Prediction: Tennessee State 20, UAPB 17
Norfolk State (0-1) at Hampton (1-0), Saturday, September 9, 6 p.m. EST
The Spartans lost the Labor Day Classic in the wildest way possible, so while a loss is still a loss, there’s something for Dawson Odums’ team to build on. The Pirates, meanwhile, built a solid foundation with a 35-31 win over Grambling in the Brick City Classic.
As pointed out on the HBCU Sports podcast by fellow contributor Jarrett Hoffman, the Pirates are 14-2 against HBCUs since leaving the MEAC five years ago. With a bear of a Coastal Athletic Association schedule looming, a win against their Seven Cities rival could be a momentum boost heading into conference play.
Prediction: Hampton 28, Norfolk State 21
North Carolina Central (1-0) at North Carolina A&T (0-1), Saturday September 9, 7 p.m.
A&T got the rough end of things at UAB Saturday, so being back at home against a familiar foe will have them ready for battle. Central, meanwhile, took care of business as expected against Winston-Salem State last weekend. The Aggies won’t take losing two in a row to the Durham crew, so look for this game to be competitive until the final whistle.
Prediction: North Carolina Central 30, North Carolina A&T 24