The newly revamped and renamed Coastal Athletic Association got its initial 16-member football conference play underway last weekend with a massive number of games across the spectrum. It was a mixed bag of success in nonconference play for the CAA most notably Hampton’s big 35-31 win over Grambling, Morgan State’s stunning 17-10 upset over nationally ranked Richmond, a preseason CAA favorite on the road. In other FCS action Villanova crushed Lehigh 38-10 and New Hampshire destroyed Stonehill 51-17.
There were great efforts in some very close losses by CAA teams to FBS teams with Georgia State besting Rhode Island 42-35, Marshall over Albany 21-17, and FIU edging out Maine 14-12. Other FBS teams had little trouble against the CAA competition with Wake Forest racing past Elon 37-17, UAB handling N.C. A&T 35-6, and Maryland cruising over Towson 38-6.
In conference play Delaware was impressive over Stony Brook 37-17 and defending champion #4-ranked William and Mary shook off some early first half rust to ease past Campbell 34-24.
Friday, September 8
Stony Brook at Rhode Island 7pm FloSports
Saturday, September 9
Delaware at Penn State 12:00pm Peacock
New Hampshire at Central Michigan 1:30pm ESPN+
Campbell at The Citadel 3:00pm ESPN+
Maine at North Dakota State 3:30pm ESPN+/ABC ND
Richmond at Michigan State 3:30pm BTN
Colgate at Villanova 6:00pm FloSports
Elon at Gardner-Webb 6:00pm ESPN+
Monmouth at Towson 6:00pm FloSports
Wofford at William & Mary 6:00pm FloSports
Norfolk State at Hampton 6:00pm FloSports
NC Central at North Carolina A&T 7:00pm FloSports
UAlbany at Hawaii 11:59pm Spectrum PPV
This week’s blood feud with N.C. Central has been on everyone is mind all week long and for some fans, since last year when the gun sounded in Charlotte with the Eagles breaking a four-year drought against A&T. NCCU used that early season win as a spring board to one of their best seasons ever going 10-2 and winning both the MEAC and the HBCU national championship in a thrilling upset over Deion Sander’s much ballyhooed Jackson State squad in the Celebration Bowl.
Going into tomorrow’s game NCCU is the odds-on favorite to win it all again this year and will be a heavy favorite over an A&T team that is not only beginning its transition into the Coastal Athletic Association but also with new first year head coach Vincent Brown who replaced the venerable Sam Washington who was let go at the end of last season.
While the Eagles boast a roster filled with plenty of experienced seniors and juniors throughout its line-up led by all-everything QB Davius Richard, the Aggies are for the most part, very green in some very key areas – QB, defensive line, wide receiver, and linebacker. Overall, Brown will field one of the youngest teams in the FCS which has 37 sophomores and 42 freshmen on this year’s roster.
Still, A&T has plenty of tools on hand to possibly upset the Eagle apple cart – a solid running game built around a big veteran offensive line with stable of high-quality running backs along with a defensive secondary that matched up well against a good UAB offense. Also, keep in mind that the Aggies will be welcoming back about a half dozen or so key performers that missed last week because of Covid restrictions. And yes folks, Covid is still trying to make a comeback going into the fall.
Do not expect to see A&T repeat its aerial performance of a week ago attempting just 8 passes during the entire game. Brown made it very clear that steps were being taken to correct that situation and that he intends to make sure that the ball gets into the hands of his playmakers going forward. Defensively, the Aggies will get some needed pieces back to its front seven which should make a big difference up front.
In any event, A&T will not be one-dimensional as it was last week with just 8 pass plays called nor will be flip- flopped by going completely pass crazy as it did last year in the Duke Mayo Classic with 48 attempts. The one big thing that A&T has going for it in this year’s match-up is the unknown. Scouting reports aren’t going to help NCCU much this time around because it’s a whole new staff on the other side of the field with a completely different scheme from years past. In-game adjustments will be at a premium on Saturday night.
There should not be any shortage of emotion by game time as both teams will be naturally fired up and ready to play. I suspect there may be some of the classic “jack-jawing” that normally goes in the warmups although hopefully nothing near as volatile as the now infamous 2017 meeting between these two bitter rivals where ejections and penalties were handed out long before kick-off.
I think the big question will be which team will be best able to harness that intense emotion, stay focused on proper execution, and avoid those mental mistakes that puts their team in bad situations on defense and kill potential scoring drives on the other end.
But this is a rival game, a rival game in its purest form and any records, past or present will mean absolutely nothing. Even though these two schools are no longer in the same conference, and the result no longer counts in their respective league standings any more one big factor remains the same – the rivalry.
It will certainly be the most intense ball game of the year before an anticipated sellout crowd which is remarkable for being just the second game of the year. They don’t like us one bit and we sure as hell don’t care for them but when it’s over the vanquished will begrudgingly acknowledge the victor and move on to the next week. The loser won’t like it but it is what it is and the trash talk between these two schools will be on blast until next fall as it should be. It’s Aggie-Eagle weekend and that’s all anyone needs to know.
N.C. A&T – 23
NCCU – 21