HBCU Legends' Top 5 Power Rankings in FCS football for Week 8.
In Week 7, Jackson State proved once again the Tigers are legit, PV squeaks out a win in Florida, and a new arrival to the top-five emerges.
A pair of top-five teams had bye weeks and a new squad jumped into the rankings.
1. JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY
The NFL executive who built several championship teams, Gil Brandt, ranks two positions the highest on a football team - the quarterback and edge rusher. Jackson State Tigers (5-1, 3-0 SWAC) deserve the top billing as the best in HBCU football for those two reasons - quarterback Shedeur Sanders and edge rusher James Houston.
Jackson State struggled for consistency before being knotted-up, 7-7, with the Alabama State Hornets (3-3, 2-2 SWAC) at halftime.
The halftime adjustments proved to be the difference. Sanders opened the second half and took control of the football game. James Houston became an irritant to ASU's QB Crawley, and the Tigers shut down the Hornets' offense in the second half.
Sanders and Houston are two highly effective and efficient players for JSU. The Tigers' defense allows a measly 3.6 yards per play, one touchdown per game, and has sacked quarterbacks 27 times on the season.
Sanders' maturity is well above most six-game quarterbacks.
Coach Prime's Tigers will host a winless and desperate Bethune-Cookman (0-7, 0-4 SWAC) at 1 PM CT on Saturday, Oct. 23.
2. PRAIRIE VIEW A&M
Prairie View matched Bethune-Cookman score-for-score in the second half and held off the Wildcats for a 35-29 victory.
The Panthers shook off the bye week rust and totaled 442 of offense. QB Jawon Pass tossed 22 times and completed 15 passes for 227 yards and 2 TDs. Jaden Stewart ran eight times for 91 yards.
On the flip side, the PV defense yielded 498 of total offense to the Wildcats. Look for Coach Dooley to tweak his defensive unit before facing the Jaguars in Baton Rouge at 6 PM CT on Saturday, Oct. 23. The game will be significant for both teams.
A road win will keep the Panthers on top of the SWAC West.
3. NORFOLK STATE
Coach Odums and the Spartans took care of business won their fourth-consecutive contest. Norfolk State (4-2, 0-0 MEAC) scored 28 first-quarter points and glided to a 42-14 victory against Virginia-Lynchburg (0-7).
QB Juwan Carter registered three touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) and 274 yards of total offense in the win.
Next for the Spartans is a date with the Howard Bisons in D.C. at 1 PM ET on Saturday, Oct. 23.
4. ALCORN STATE
The Alcorn Braves (4-2, 3-0 SWAC) visited the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (2-4, 1-2) and left victorious, 24-12.
Alcorn led from the opening horn to the final gun. Felix Harper completed 15-of-25 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown.
Niko Duffey helped the Braves control the clock, rushed for 138 yards on 18 carries, and scored one touchdown.
Suppose Alcorn can continue on its winning trajectory. In that case, their late-season Braves-Panthers showdown would give us the SWAC West division champion.
Guess who the Braves' final opponent is? Jackson State. If JSU and Alcorn run the table, they could meet twice before the Centennial Bowl.
Texas Southern will welcome Alcorn to Houston next Saturday, Oct. 23, at 7 PM CT.
5. FLORIDA A&M
FAMU (4-1, 2-1 SWAC) took on its second-toughest opponent in the SWAC, the Alabama A&M Bulldogs (3-3, 1-3 SWAC).
I had a feeling this game would be close, and the Bulldogs pressed the Rattlers for three quarters before FAMU scored 19 fourth-quarter points to win 35-31.
Coach Maynor and Aqeel Glass saw their postseason hopes start to fade away after losing their third consecutive game in the SWAC - a stunning downfall.
The Rattlers' quarterback Resean McKay threw 21-of-34 passes for 251 yards, 3 TD, and 1 INT. However, it was Bishop Bonnett's legs who did the talking. He ran 17 times for 187 yards and one touchdown. Bonnett struck the final blow to A&M when he outran the Bulldogs defenders for an 80-yard touchdown run with 2:27 left in the game.
Glass tossed his only interception of the game to Javan Morgan at the AAMU 35-yard line. Next, the Rattlers would run out the clock.
FAMU's defense dropped one spot to No. 2 in the SWAC behind Jackson State.
The Rattlers march to Mississippi for a challenge against Mississippi Valley State (2-4, 1-2) at 3 PM CT on Saturday, Oct. 23.
WHY NOT NORTH CAROLINA A&T?
The Kennesaw State loss wasn't the issue. The problem was they could not score a point in the tilt. I told Mark Gray and Ralph Cooper last week that I did not believe A&T had the offensive firepower to handle a strong defense.
At the moment, if A&T had to play against the defenses of Jackson State or FAMU, the Aggies would have difficulties.
HBCU Conferences Standings after - Week 7
HBCU teams after Week 6 of action in the FCS.
- Howard | 2-4 (1-0)
- South Carolina State | 2-4 (1-0)
- Norfolk State | 4-2 (0-0)
- Delaware State | 3-3 (0-0)
- North Carolina Central | 2-4 (0-0)
- Morgan State | 0-6 (0-2)
- Jackson State | 5-1 (3-0)
- Florida A&M | 4-2 (2-1)
- Alabama State | 3-3 (2-2)
- Mississippi Valley State | 2-4 (1-2)
- Alabama A&M | 3-3 (1-3)
- Bethune-Cookman | 0-7 (0-4)
- Prairie View A&M | 5-1 (4-0)
- Alcorn State | 4-2 (3-0)
- Southern | 3-3 (2-1)
- Grambling State | 3-4 (2-2)
- Texas Southern| 2-4 (1-2)
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff | 1-5 (0-4)
Conference records in parentheses.