In Big Day For FCS, HBCUs Miss The Mark

North Carolina Central’s offense was stiffled on opening day as Duke won in a 45-0 rout. (Herald-Sun photo)

The first weekend of the 2013 college football season will be remembered for several FCS teams defeating bigger, FBS teams. HBCUs missed out entirely on that trend, however, as the MEAC and SWAC went a combined 0-7 against FBS opponents. In fact, the two HBCU conferences went a combined 0-11 against non-conference Division I opponents.

Several teams flirted with upsets, as both Howard and South Carolina State held leads into the second half. Howard was gunning for the bigger upset, as it held a double-digit lead over FBS member Eastern Michigan in the third quarter. EMU responded with a 21 unanswered points to pull away with a 34-24 win. It was a disappointing finish to what would have been a monumental upset for a Howard squad picked to finish sixth in the MEAC.

South Carolina State and Alabama State had chances to score quality non-conference wins against FCS opponents, but ultimately fell short. SC State played tough against nationally ranked, in-state opponent Coastal Carolina, but ultimately falling 27-20. Like Howard, SC State faded at the end, as Coastal Carolina finished the game with 15 unanswered points. Head coach Buddy Pough tried to pull positives out of his team’s loss.

“This is a devastating loss, but it’s the first game of the season,” Pough told the Times and Democrat. “We feel very good about the fact that these young men can get it done. We can get it done. So we’re at the point now where we’ve just got to continue to fight to try to get better each week.”

Alabama State stayed close with Jacksonville State the entire game, but its comeback bid fell short and ASU suffered a 24-22 loss to start the season.

Outside of those three-teams, non-conference matchups yielded bad-to-embarassing results for HBCUs. Duke blanked North Carolina Central 45-0. Georgia Southern blew past Savannah State for a 77-9 win. Perhaps most disheartening was SWAC champion UAPB getting blown out by Arkansas State 62-11. Norfolk State (23-6 loss to Maine) and Morgan State (28-12 loss to Army on Friday) kept their games respectable.

Three SWAC teams picked up wins on Saturday. After falling behind early, Prairie View came back to start its season with a 37-13 win over cross-town rival Texas Southern in the annual Labor Day Classic. Alabama A&M picked up a 23-9 win over Grambling and Alcorn State toyed with NAIA squad Edward Waters, coming away with an easy 63-12 win.

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Two big all-HBCU matchups will end the first week of action: Florida A&M and Mississippi Valley State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge and Bethune-Cookman travels to Nashville to take on Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic.

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