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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | October 10, 2022

Southern and Florida A&M join the top 5 HBCU football power rankings for Week 7

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

After intense conference games created plenty of drama in HBCU football, it's time for a fresh set of HBCU football power rankings as teams regroup ahead of Week 7.

These are 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 7 HBCU Football Power Rankings

Biggest movers entering Week 7

  • Florida A&M +3
  • Grambling State, South Carolina State -3

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

Jackson State pulled away from Alabama State in the second half to remain undefeated. Then came the handshake. Opinions on handshakes aside, Coach Deion Sanders may have just found his newest rival.

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2. Alcorn State | SWAC | 3-2 (2-0) | Prev: 2

Alcorn State defeated Mississippi Valley State, avoiding a classic trap game. Running back Jarveon Howard is the real deal, scoring seven rushing touchdowns in the last three games.

3. North Carolina Central | MEAC | 4-1 (0-0) | Prev: 3

North Carolina Central had a bye last week, but the Eagles are still looking to rebound from their first loss of the season.

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4. Southern | SWAC | 3-2 (2-1) | Prev: 6

A dominant second half gave Southern a win over Prairie View A&M. The Jaguars control their destiny now in the SWAC West. All eyes are on a matchup with Alcorn State this week.

5. Florida A&M | SWAC | 4-2 (2-1) | Prev: 8

Florida A&M has won four straight games, including its first road win last week. Wide receiver Xavier Smith continues to show he's one of the best in the FCS. The Rattlers visit a struggling Grambling team up next.

PAST RANKINGS: Preseason | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6

6. Prairie View A&M | SWAC | 3-3 (3-1) | Prev: 4

Prairie View A&M lost its first SWAC game, unable to beat its former coach at Southern. The Panthers aren't out of the division title race yet, but it lost a key tiebreaker opportunity.

7. Hampton | CAA | 3-2 (0-2) | Prev: 5

Hampton is off to an 0-2 start in its inaugural season in the CAA. The Pirates face Albany this week before heading into a gauntlet of ranked or formerly ranked teams.

8. North Carolina A&T | Big South | 2-3 (1-0) | Prev: 9

North Carolina A&T plays Edward Waters this week, returning from a bye week. This game may look like an easy win, but if Tennessee State taught us anything, we should expect the unexpected.

9. Delaware State | MEAC | 3-2 (0-0) | Prev: 11

Delaware State had a bye last week, but the Hornets make their first appearance in the top 10 thanks to teams losing.

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10. South Carolina State | MEAC | 1-4 (0-0) | Prev: 7

Even in a loss, South Carolina State's Davis duo will get theirs as BJ and Shaquan got two interceptions and two touchdowns, respectively. While those individuals continue to find success, it's clear that the Bulldogs will go as far as quarterback Corey Fields Jr. can take them, meaning he'll need to be a lot more consistent. 

11. Alabama State | SWAC | 3-3 (1-2) | Prev: 10

Before the infamous handshake, Alabama State head coach Eddie Robinson Jr. coached a terrific game plan against a typically dominant Jackson State team. The Hornets created pressure with blitzes and gave the Tigers their biggest challenge to date. If Alabama State's quarterback Dematrius Davis can stay healthy, the Hornets can compete with any team in the SWAC.

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

12. Texas Southern | SWAC | 2-4 (2-1) | Prev: 12

Texas Southern picked up a solid win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The offense wasn't particularly explosive as of late, but it got the job done.

13. Alabama A&M | SWAC | 2-4 (2-1) | Prev: 14

Alabama A&M has won two straight games, and its offense appears to have found new life after a putrid start. At 2-1 in the SWAC, the Bulldogs could create chaos in the SWAC East division.

14. Morgan State | MEAC | 2-3 (0-1) | Prev: 13

Morgan State couldn't pull off its third-straight win, suffering a homecoming loss. After falling behind 17-0, the Bears showed that they fight to the finish and that they should never be counted out.  

15. Tennessee State | OVC | 1-4 (0-0) | Prev: 17

After losing to a DII program, Tennessee State bounced back to win its first game. In the win, quarterback Draylen Ellis and running back Devon Starling returned to action.

16. Howard | MEAC | 1-4 (0-0) | Prev: 18

Howard had a bye last week. When the Bison return, they'll play a home road game so to speak, facing Harvard at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. It's the closest thing to a home game the Howard has had all season.

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17. Bethune-Cookman | SWAC | 1-4 (1-1) | Prev: 15

Bethune-Cookman lost to Tennessee State in its final non-conference game of the season. 

18. Norfolk State | MEAC | 1-5 (1-0) | Prev: 20

Oh how the Spartans missed MEAC play! Norfolk State picked up its first win after starting 0-5 thanks to a last-second touchdown from wide receiver Da'Quan Felton. It was an exciting start to conference play as Norfolk State begins its rise up the rankings.

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

19. Grambling State | SWAC | 1-5 (0-3) | Prev: 16

While Grambling came close in double overtime, they couldn't walk away with a win. The Tigers haven't won a game since Coach Hue Jackson took the "G" off the helmet weeks ago. If Jackson's removal of letters was a game of horse, then it's the "mbling Tigers" entering Week 7. Luckily, the Tigers only have five games left in 2022, so in the event they lose out, they could re-earn the "g", only this time lowercase.

20. Arkansas-Pine Bluff | SWAC | 2-4 (0-3) | Prev: 20

Make that four straight losses for Arkansas-Pine Bluff after opening the season with two non-FCS wins.

🏆: HBCU football championship history

21. Mississippi Valley State | SWAC | 0-6 (0-3) | Prev: 21

It's now seven halves and 17 quarters that Mississippi Valley State has gone scoreless this season.

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