In Week 6 of the HBCU football season, we discovered that the SWAC West is absolutely what we thought it would be this year.
The SIAC had a significant domino fall in a matchup between two undefeated teams, while the CIAA North division race became clearer.
Here are the five takeaways from a wild Saturday.
1. North Carolina Central takes down another ranked opponent
North Carolina Central proved why they are again the reigning Black College Football national champions, knocking off a nationally ranked opponent.
The Eagles defeated the 25th-ranked Elon 34-23, marking the second straight year they have beaten a top-25-ranked competitor.
This also gave them their second straight win (third overall) over a CAA conference opponent this season. In addition, they are a perfect 4-0 against FCS opponents.
NC Central is proving why they were the prohibitive favorite to win the MEAC, as they are the only team currently holding a winning record in the conference.
With conference play looming, the Eagles are in the driver’s seat to repeat as conference champions and compete for a chance to win back-to-back Celebration Bowls.
2. Benedict holds on to conference win streak
For the first time this season, the Benedict Tigers faced significant adversity in their battle against fellow unbeaten SIAC opponent Miles Golden Bears.
Ultimately, Benedict returned with its unblemished record intact, defeating Miles 27-24.
The win improves Benedict’s conference record to 4-0 this season while extending its win streak to 13 games against the SIAC dating back to 2021.
After jumping out to a 21-3 lead, Miles scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to take a 24-21 lead.
This was the first time Benedict has trailed in the second half of a conference game since 2021. With their backs against the well, the Tigers answered the call, scoring a game-winning touchdown to remain unbeaten.
The Tigers are now one of four remaining undefeated teams in conference play in the SIAC. Benedict will clash with one of its undefeated competitors next week when they face Fort Valley State on Thursday night.
3. Virginia State controls the CIAA North
The Virginia State Trojans took over complete control of the CIAA Northern division, spoiling the Bowie State Bulldogs’ homecoming, defeating them 44-16.
Improving to a perfect 4-0 against the CIAA (6-0 overall), the Trojans’ destiny is now in their own hands for the remainder of the season.
As the only undefeated team in the Northern division, the Trojans must remain unblemished at the end of the season, and they will clinch a spot in the CIAA championship game.
Their remaining schedule includes divisional matchups against Bluefield State for homecoming, home matchups against Elizabeth City State and Lincoln, and caps on the road against Virginia Union.
Virginia Union, currently in second place in the CIAA North with a 301 conference record, could overtake Virginia State in an ironic twist to their fate last season.
4. Chaos in the SWAC West
Last season, the SWAC West ended in chaos with outrageous division-clinching scenarios ensuing in the season’s final week.
That chaos has followed the division into 2023, with a log jam in the top four slots thanks to the results in week 6.
The most consequential result came in the Alcorn State Braves handing the Grambling State Tigers their first conference loss of the season, bringing each team’s record to 2-1 against the SWAC.
Joining Grambling State in suffering its first conference loss was Southern, who fell short against Florida A&M, also bringing them to 2-1.
Meanwhile, Prairie View A&M overtook all three teams, improving to 3-1 following its win over Mississippi Valley State.
Head-to-head matchups will become key as we enter the back half of the schedule.
5. Howard nearly pulls off the upset
The Howard Bison came fairly close to claiming a victory over Big Ten opponent Northwestern but, in the end, fell short 23-20.
Howard has been a mixed bag, giving its two FBS opponents a run for their money this season while trading looking dominant and ill-prepared against its FCS opponents.
After fighting valiantly in their duel against Eastern Michigan and clearing Morehouse, the Bison set themselves back with a head-scratching loss against Hampton.
They returned to the field looking sharp in a win over Robert Morris and kept that up this week against Northwestern.
While the game against Hampton could just be an anomaly, it does not clearly indicate the fate ahead for the Bison once they enter conference play.