When the annals of HBCU football are opened later in history, it will be shown that 2014 was the Year of The Underdog. The final week of the FCS saw several upsets at the top of the MEAC and SWAC, one of which changed the course of history.
North Carolina Central was predicted to finish near the bottom of the MEAC under first year coach Jerry Mack, while North Carolina A&T was one of the favorites under veteran Rod Broadway. Coming into Saturday, however, just one game separated NC A&T from four other teams, including rival NCCU.
All A&T had to do was beat NCCU, and it was in the playoffs with the MEAC's automatic bid. But NCCU's desire for a piece of the MEAC Championship, as well as its thirst to spoil A&T's automatic bid and beat its rival for the first time in three years, kept the game close, and in the end, NCCU pulled out a 21-14 win.
NCCU's win, as well as wins by Bethune-Cookman, SC State and Morgan State, gave the MEAC a five-way tie for the conference lead at 6-2. Morgan State would ultimately secure the bid to the FCS playoffs by beating Delaware State and by virtue of its 21-20 win over NCCU in October.
Finished to pick last in the conference, Morgan State won its first MEAC title since 1979 under rookie head coach Lee Hull. Morgan will play at Richmond on Saturday to try to pick up the MEAC's first playoff win in this millenium.
Another upset headlined SWAC action as Jackson State stunned Prairie View by pulling off a 34-31 victory. The season couldn't have ended any better for embattled JSU coach Harold Jackson, whose job has been rumored to be in danger for most of the season. Alcorn State lost some of its luster, but will take on the winner of The Bayou Classic in the SWAC Championship next month after having wrapped up the division title two weeks ago.
The Divsion II playoffs started this week, and for the fourth year in a row, the CIAA won a playoff game. Virginia State (10-2) came up with a 28-17 win over LIU Post on Saturday, giving them the victory in its first-ever playoff game. SIAC Champion Tuskegee (9-3) was not so lucky, as it fell on the wrong end of a 20-17 score against West Georgia.
With a weekend of upsets, the HBCU Football season continues to surprise across the divisions, giving fans one of the more exciting seasons in recent history.