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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | September 12, 2022

North Carolina A&T falls, Grambling State rises in Week 3's HBCU football power rankings

FCS football season preview: Players to watch, potential upsets and more

Only seven of 21 FCS HBCU football teams won in Week 2 as teams played vastly different opponents, ranging from the FBS to NAIA level. Such variety means all games can't be evaluated equally entering Week 3's HBCU football power rankings.

These will be done weekly throughout the regular season, as I sort each HBCU football team at the FCS level based on their performances. Nicknamed The Road to Atlanta, the weekly power rankings lead to the annual meeting of HBCU football's two best teams at this year's Celebration Bowl in Atlanta.

The Road to Atlanta: Week 3 HBCU Football Power Rankings

Biggest Movers in Week 3
Spots Moved Team
+4 Grambling State
+3 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Hampton, Prairie View A&M
-5 North Carolina A&T
-3 Alcorn State

Check out the rankings below.

1. Jackson State | SWAC | 2-0 (1-0) | Prev: 1

It wasn't the offensive explosion we saw in Week 1 but instead, we saw Jackson State's defense dominate a low-scoring game against Tennessee State. Jackson State notched eight sacks in the win and Nyles Gaddy looked dominant, getting four of them.

RECAP: Here's what you may have missed in Week 2 of HBCU football

2. South Carolina State | MEAC | 1-1 (0-0) | Prev: 2

Davis and Davis might sound like a law firm, but at South Carolina State, it's a duo of star athletes on both sides of the ball that led the Bulldogs to their first win of the season, defeating old MEAC rival Bethune-Cookman 33-9. Wide receiver Shaq Davis scored an 87-yard touchdown in Randy Moss-like fashion, and linebacker BJ Davis grabbed two of South Carolina State's four interceptions in the win. 

3. North Carolina Central | MEAC | 2-0 (0-0) | Prev: 3

North Carolina Central beat in-state rival Winston-Salem State in its first shutout victory since 2017. The Eagles are now off to their first 2-0 start as an FCS program.

4. Southern | SWAC | 1-1 (0-0) | Prev: 5

Southern moves up after showing signs of life against LSU. In what was likely one of the greatest atmospheres of any city during the 2022 college football season across all levels, the Jaguars scored 17 second-half points, highlighted by a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown. We'll finally get a litmus test of how good this Southern team is in Week 3 when the Jaguars play their first FCS opponent.

2022 HBCU: Follow everything that happens in the 2022 HBCU football season

5. Tennessee State | OVC | 0-2 (0-0) | Prev: 6

Tennessee State slowed down Jackson State's offense but couldn't muster any offense of its own in the Southern Heritage Classic. When the defense holds a team that scored 59 points in Week 1 to nine points through 57-plus minutes of gameplay, the offense must provide support.

6.  Prairie View A&M | SWAC | 1-1 (1-0) | Prev: 9

Prairie View A&M rises in the power rankings, even with a loss, thanks to poor performances from teams ahead of it and a rediscovery of a passing attack. After completing zero passes in Week 1's victory, quarterback Trazon Connley completed 54 percent of his passes in Week 2. Still a lot of room for improvement, but it was enough for the Panthers to hold a fourth-quarter lead on a solid Abilene Christian team.

7. Alcorn State | SWAC | 0-2 (0-0) | Prev: 4

Alcorn State falls in this week's rankings after failing to find the end zone against FBS opponent Tulane. The offense only recorded 109 total yards in the loss, but a strong Week 1 showing in a ranked FCS loss keeps the Braves in the top 10 for now.

PAST RANKINGS: Preseason | Week 2

8. Alabama A&M | SWAC | 0-2 (0-0) | Prev: 7

It might've taken two weeks, but Alabama A&M found the end zone against FBS opponent Troy. The Bulldogs played close for a half and have finished their early FBS stretch of the season.

9. Florida A&M | SWAC | 1-2 (0-1) | Prev: 10

Florida A&M picked up a morale-boosting win entering its bye week, defeating Division II HBCU power Albany State. 

10. Alabama State | SWAC | 2-1 (0-0) | Prev: 11

Alabama State suffered its first loss this season to UCLA in Week 2. The Hornets will have a bye in Week 3 to regroup and get healthy, as there wasn't any sign of MEAC/SWAC Challenge MVP Dematrius Davis against the Bruins after he suffered a Week 1 injury.

SWARM: Click or tap here to see how Alabama State won the 2022 MEAC/SWAC Challenge

11. Hampton | CAA | 2-0 (0-0) | Prev: 14

Hampton is 2-0 entering Week 3's the Battle of the Bay after defeating Tuskegee. The Pirates are undefeated against HBCUs this year — one from the FCS and one from DII.

12. Grambling State | SWAC | 1-1 (0-0) | Prev: 16

Grambling State dominated Northwestern State, leading by as many as 34 points in its first FCS game of the season. Grambling State faces a big test in Week 3, heading to Jackson State.

CLASSICS: Here's every 2022 HBCU football classic in the FCS

13. North Carolina A&T | Big South | 0-2 (0-0) | Prev: 8

North Carolina A&T got blasted by the top team in all of FCS football, North Dakota State. While some might say that the result is as expected, plenty of questions remain about who the Aggies play at quarterback. The schedule doesn't get any easier for North Carolina A&T, with FBS foe Duke up next.

14. Delaware State | MEAC | 1-1 (0-0) | Prev: 12

Delaware State lost the Route 1 Rivalry, remaining winless against its in-state rival. The Hornets must fix errors on special teams and protect the ball as the season progresses.

15. Norfolk State | MEAC | 0-2 (0-0) | Prev: 13

Like last week, Norfolk State didn't fall in the rankings because of what it did on the field against an FBS opponent. The Spartans were simply passed by teams who played better. Once Norfolk State plays FCS opponents, we'll be able to judge just how good the 2022 version of this team can be. 

MEAC VS SWAC: 16 of the best MEAC/SWAC Challenge moments

16. Arkansas-Pine Bluff | SWAC | 2-0 (0-0) | Prev: 19

After playing a Division II opponent to the wire in Week 1, Arkansas-Pine Bluff dominated an NAIA opponent in Week 2. The Golden Lions are undefeated, but the competition level keeps them from rising higher.

17. Bethune-Cookman | SWAC | 0-2 (0-0) | Prev: 15

Bethune-Cookman couldn't limit the turnovers against the defending Celebration Bowl champions, South Carolina State. The Wildcats will enter a bye week to regroup before SWAC play.

18. Texas Southern | SWAC | 0-2 (0-1) | Prev: 18

Texas Southern fell to 0-2 after losing to in-state FBS opponent North Texas. The Tigers played close for 1.5 quarters.

CAN'T MISS: 6 HBCU football game-day atmospheres that you need to experience

19. Mississippi Valley State | SWAC | 0-2 (0-0) | Prev: 17

Mississippi Valley State fell behind 41-0 in the first half to Austin Peay. On the bright side, the Delta Devils had a shutout in the second half.

20. Howard | MEAC | 0-3 (0-0) | Prev: 20

Howard fell to 0-3 after losing to FBS opponent South Florida. The Bison head to New York City for the inaugural HBCU Football New York Classic against Morehouse in Week 3.

🏆: HBCU football championship history

21. Morgan State | MEAC | 0-2 (0-0) | Prev: 21

The Bears played Towson tough in the Battle for Greater Baltimore, but couldn't contain the quarterback long enough for that first win.

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