Nothing To Lose And Everything To Gain
by Craig R. Turner
Published: September 10, 2022

This past week the college football season got underway and there were few surprises on the first full weekend. In the biggest game of the weekend, N.C. Central used a solid ball control offense to wrest away a mild upset over mistake-prone North Carolina A&T 28-13 before more than 35,000 fans in the Duke’s Mayo Classic at Bank America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

Gardner-Webb had little trouble in dispatching D-II Limestone 56-21 down in Boiling Springs, N.C. The Bulldogs (1-0) ran for 412 yards on 57 carries – its most ground yardage since moving to NCAA Division I in 2000. The lead was 28-0 by the end of the first quarter and grew to 42-7 by halftime.

Campbell saw the triumphant return of all-everything quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams as he led the Camels to a 29-10 victory over The Citadel in Buies Creek N.C. Williams, who tore up his knee nearly a year ago and missed most of last season, completed 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards and one score on the night.

Bryant led most of the way against FBS foe FIU on the road but couldn’t finish the deal as they lost a 38-37 heartbreaker in overtime. Bryant dominated almost the entire first half and led 16-0 after more than 29 minutes had elapsed. However FIU came back with a huge 24-point fourth quarter to tie the game at the end of regulation at 30.

The Dayton Flyers spoiled the home opener for Robert Morris 22-20 in Moon Town, PA. Dayton played from behind most of the day and used a 63-yard TD run by Luke Brenner to take the lead for good at 15-14 midway through the third quarter and then followed that up with a another TD just seconds later off a RMU interception turnover on their very next possession.

Hampton had to hold on for dear life beating Howard 31-28 at home after nearly blowing a three-touchdown advantage that it held midway through the third quarter. There was little defense in this game as the two teams accounted for over 900 yards of total offense between them. The Pirates ran for 246 yards and used big running plays out of the read option to offset a stellar 339-yard, 4-touchdown pass performance from Howard QB Quinton Williams.

Charleston Southern had a rough day of it as Western Carolina overwhelmed the Buccaneers on the road with a 52-38 win down in Charleston, S.C. The Catamounts jumped out to a 31-10 lead late in the second quarter and were never seriously threatened after that. CSU gained 392 yards in total offense but could not overcome 6 sacks and two turnovers in the second half.


Big South TV Schedule – Saturday, Sept. 10

Charleston Southern at NC State 12:30pm, RSN

North Carolina A&T at NDSU – 3:30pm, ESPN+

Rhode Island at Bryant – 6pm, ESPN+

Campbell at William & Mary – 6pm, FloFootball

Gardner-Webb at Coastal Carolina – 6pm, ESPN+

Robert Morris at Miami (Ohio) – 6pm, ESPN3

Due to some unusual circumstances and time restraints this week, we are giving you a link previewing this week’s match-up from both and the North Dakota State athletic web site in lieu of our usual breakdown of this week’s upcoming opponent.



As A&T is coming off a disheartening loss to N.C. Central the old adage that the biggest improvement for most teams is the leap between week one and week two. I think that that old adage may not necessarily apply as the Aggies will face the greatest single force in all of the FCS and one of the most dominant programs in all of college football in North Dakota State.

NDSU has won eight of the last nine FCS championships and has become so powerful that few FBS teams dare to put them on their schedule anymore. The Bison have beaten FBS opponents for the last six years in a row, all except one against Big 12 and Big Ten teams.

NDSU won an FCS-record 39 games, snapped in 2021, that spanned across three national championships. The Bison held the previous record for consecutive wins as well, winning 33 straight from 2012-14. The term dynasty doesn’t even begin to describe just how good they are.

So why travel more than halfway across the country to the Fargo Dome to play against the small school equivalent of an Alabama or Georgia? Well to refresh everyone’s memory this game was scheduled some 3 years ago when A&T was the toast of HBCU football after winning its third straight Celebration Bowl and claming its fourth HBCU national title in five years. At the time, it was supposed to be the dream match-up that would showcase these two hugely talented and quite dominant programs in a big FCS head-to- head showdown.

But then the Covid pandemic swept the nation canceling entire seasons in 2020 and fracturing college football for what seemed like an eternity of some 19 months. Some programs, the well-financed ones, weathered the interruption without skipping a beat while others on the other end of that spectrum couldn’t and didn’t make out so well.

Coupled with the sudden merry-go-round in its conference affiliations, not just once but twice in less than a year, major staff changes, and unexplained inconsistency, A&T is still trying to figure out exactly what they need to do to get back to their past level of play during their glory days in the MEAC as they end the short lived experience in the Big South this fall and prepare to venture into the powerful CAA in 2023 as a permanent member.

Let’s not fool ourselves here. NDSU is a true beast with at least four potential first round draft choices and nine preseason All-America selections in their starting lineup. The Bison will most likely win this game easily or at least they should. They are in actuality a Top 25 FBS program masquerading as a high resource FCS team that very few programs within the Missouri Valley Conference, let alone in the entire country, that can go toe-to toe with on a regular.

I think in a best-case scenario, A&T can give a good account of themselves, forcing the Bison to not sleepwalk their way through this game but actually push them a good bit into the latter stages of the game in order to secure the win. The Aggies have an opportunity to prove they aren’t chopped liver just looking to bring home a fairly decent paycheck like Delaware State did a few years back. A&T can use this game to improve on many of the little things that turned into big things that went awry against NCCU.

Aggies fans should view this game in the same category as an experiment to correct the mistakes in their execution, improve their special teams, find some balance between the run and pass in their offensive play calls, improve production inside the red zone, and improve their third down defense in long yardage situations which was really the game killer a week ago.

If we can see significant improvement in those areas, then that would be significant process for a young team with a lot of individual talent that still has yet to learn how to play as a cohesive unit with a single purpose mindset. Do those things and the rest will take care of itself. That will be the true measurement of exactly where we stand as a program against the gold standard called North Dakota State.



North Dakota State – 42

N.C. A&T – 21

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