College Football season is pretty much over for HBCUs. We’ve seen upsets, magic plays, and close finishes. The 2017 season was a season for the books. North Carolina A&T, Virginia State, Bowie State, Howard, Tuskegee, Grambling, Southern proved why they are the best while other teams made their mark as well. Here’s the HBCU Football Season In Review.
The MEAC is the top HBCU conference in profits and star power, on and off the field. With some of the more notable schools in this conference, the aesthetics are always something to watch out for. The 2017 MEAC season had fireworks before the conference schedule even started. North Carolina A&T and Howard both defeated FBS schools before the season started, the MEAC was the place for attention for sure. North Carolina A&T won the outright MEAC title for the first time in their school’s history. Outright is important here. The MEAC's tiebreaker system is horrible, which means that multiple schools can share conference titles, which we have seen within the last decade. NCAT’s 11-0 season was something to remember. Also, Howard’s year was very memorable. Women's Soccer, Volleyball, and Men’s and Women’s track are Howard’s strong points. Having the football team making national headlines was something different. Caylin Newton (Cam Newton’s Brother) and Mike London (Former U of Virginia Coach) steering the program will be something to look out for. Howard will be looking for their first MEAC Football title since 1993 next season.
Besides NCAT; North Carolina Central, Howard, Bethune Cookman, and Hampton looked pretty strong as well. Norfolk State, Savannah State, South Carolina State, Florida A&M, Delaware State, and Morgan State will be looking for answers in the offseason. All 6 teams had rather forgettable seasons. And of course, the MEAC will be shaken up. This most likely will be the last time for a short while that the conference plays with 11 teams during football season. Hampton completely shook the table and most likely be playing football in the Big South next year. And Savannah State will be moving to D2 in 2019. With 9 teams, will the MEAC be adding new teams? We will see. Besides the possible changes, the MEAC had an amazing year.
Top Offense: North Carolina A&T (429.6 Yards Per Game, 36.6 Points Per Game)
Top Defense: North Carolina A&T (251.4 Yards Per Game Allowed, 12.3 Points Per Game Allowed)
Top Defensive Player: SC State LB, Darius Leonard (73 Total Tackles, 8 Sacks)
Best Team: North Carolina A&T
Breakout Team: Howard University
Biggest Disappointment: Morgan State
In the final SWAC Conference Game for the near future, Grambling will face Alcorn State. The winner will face MEAC Champion in the 3rd Annual Celebration Bowl in ATL. Alabama State and Alabama A&M both gave Alcorn a run for their money but Alcorn won the SWAC East Division. Grambling’s win over Southern gave Grambling the SWAC West Division. The SWAC had a few issues with officials. A few major calls were missed during the season that affected a few times, especially Prairie View A&M. The SWAC will be looking to fix that coming into next year.
Top Offense: Alcorn State (457.9 Yards Per Game, 30.9 Points Per Game)
Top Defense: Alabama State (302.3 Yards Per Game Allowed, 18 Points Per Game Allowed)
Top Defensive Player: Texas Southern LB, Julian Marcante (92 Total Tackles)
Best Team: Grambling
Breakout Team: Alcorn State
Biggest Disappointment: Arkansas-Pine Pluff
The SIAC has 5 teams with an overall winning record. Fort Valley State, Benedict, Albany State, Tuskegee, and Miles. Although having a better record (7-2) than Fort Valley State, Benedict did not win the East Division. FVSU won the division after close battles with Benedict and Albany State. Tuskegee won the West Division after gaining heat from Miles in the division standings. Tuskegee finished at 9-2 and won the SIAC Championship. But unfortunately, their 9-2 record did not help TO reach the NCAA Division Two Football Championship playoffs. Thus once again proving how the NCAA Playoff committee fails to truly look at HBCUs during the selection process.
Top Offense: Albany State (345.7 Yards Per Game, 27.2 Points Per Game)
Top Defense: Benedict (270.2 Yards Allowed Per Game, 17.2 Points Per Game)
Top Offensive Player: Clark Atlanta QB, Johnathon McCrary (2530 Total Yards of Offense, 18 Touchdowns)
Top Defensive Player: Tuskegee LB Osband Thompson (117 Total Tackles)
Best Team: Tuskegee
Breakout Team: Benedict
Biggest Disappointment: Morehouse and CAU
The CIAA had one of the highest scoring teams in HBCU Football, a defending champ that was upset a few times, a team proved why they are better, and a few other things as well. Bowie State and Virginia State had a game to remember, and people are still questioning if the loser of that game (Bowie State) is still better than the winner and now CIAA Champion, Virginia State. Winston Salem State was the defending CIAA champion coming into this season. With a fresh new logo and high expectations, the Rams faltered. WSSU suffered unexpected losses to Fayetteville State and St. Augusntistines. To makes things worse, Bowie State and Virginia State both beat WSSU; teams that were looking to upend WSSU since last season. At the end of the season, Fayetteville State and Virginia State battled for the CIAA Championship. VSU secured the win and a playoff spot. Oh yeah, Bowie State also secured a playoff spot as well. BSU lost to Delta State, 45-35. West Georgia stopped Virginia State's momentum in the first round as well, 35-9. So the talk of the offseason will most definitely focus on BSU and VSU. Two teams who are playing better than might be better than the bigger HBCUs in their respective areas.
Top Offense: Bowie State (556.3 Total Yards of Offense, 54.5 Points Per Game)
Top Defense: WSSU (273.9 Yards Allowed PEr Game, 21.2 Points Allowed Per Game)
Top Offensive Player: Bowie State QB, Amir Hall (3519 Total Yards, 41 Touchdowns)
Top Defensive Player: Virginia Union DB, Sterling Hammond (70 Tackles, 5 Interceptions)
Best Team: Bowie State (sorry VSU)
Breakout Team: St. Augustine's
Biggest Disappointment: Livingstone
Special shoutout to Tennessee State who plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. TSU had a successful 6-5 season with a few close losses. Unfortunately, a player punching a TSU coach on the sidelines overshadowed the season for the Tigers; gaining national media attention.
North Carolina A&T awaits the winner of the SWAC Championship for the Celebration Bowl which will be on December 17th. This game serves as the defacto "HBCU National Championship Game".