football-fcs flag

Stan Becton | | October 2, 2023

Grambling State enters top 10, Southern lurking in Week 6's HBCU football power rankings

Grambling State football's Sundiata Anderson on upcoming season, NFL Draft aspirations

A historical HBCU football power joined the top 10, a preseason top-10 team fell to the bottom half of the rankings and that's just the start of Week 6's HBCU football power rankings. Here's how the latest rankings look from NCAA Digital's Stan Becton.

These will be done weekly throughout the regular season, sorting 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.

Check out the rankings below.

The Road to Atlanta: Week 6 HBCU football power rankings

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

North Carolina Central rallied from a three-touchdown deficit against a Campbell team that bullied it last year. The Eagles showed off impressive resilience, thus keeping them in front of a closing Florida A&M team.

EVERYTHING HBCU FOOTBALL: Schedule, scores, rankings and updates for the 2023 season

2. Florida A&M | SWAC | 4-1 (3-0) | Prev: 2

Florida A&M struggled early with Mississippi Valley State, but its talent soon overwhelmed to give the Rattlers the comfortable win.

STRIKE AGAIN: Florida A&M football is primed for a Celebration Bowl run in 2023

3. Hampton | CAA | 3-1 (1-0) | Prev: 5

Hampton won its second conference game in the CAA — ever. If the Pirates can figure out a way to remain in the middle of one of the nation's deepest conferences, they'll surely stay in the top-5 of these rankings.

4. Jackson State | SWAC | 2-2 (1-1) | Prev: 4

Jackson State stayed put after a bye last week.

THEE TIGERS: 'Prime Time' is over as coach T.C. Taylor leads Jackson State into a new era

5. Tennessee State | Big South-OVC | 2-2 (1-1) | Prev: 3

Tennessee State couldn't stitch together back-to-back conference wins, but the Tigers are still in the thick of a merged conference title race early in the season.

6. Howard | MEAC | 2-2 (0-0) | Prev: 9

Howard proved its worth with a dominant win over Robert Morris. A win of such nature should be the standard for the Bison if they hope to compete for a MEAC title.

7. Grambling State | SWAC | 3-2 (2-0) | Prev: 13

Grambling State has its highest ranking of the year after defeating Prairie View A&M. The Tigers have now won three straight, and a 2-0 record in SWAC play is an encouraging sign after a slow start.

8. Alabama A&M | SWAC | 3-2 (1-1) | Prev: 10

Alabama A&M didn't rise in the rankings because it beat a DII opponent in Tuskegee — it rose because the offense scored 58 points. If the offense is clicking like that, the Bulldogs are dangerous.

9. Prairie View A&M | SWAC | 2-3 (2-1) | Prev: 6

Prairie View A&M no longer controls its destiny in the SWAC West after a loss to Grambling State. Unlike most of their SWAC counterparts, the Panthers have only two divisional games left on their schedule.

10. Alcorn State | SWAC | 2-3 (1-1) | Prev: 8

Alcorn State bounced back from a loss with a win over Alabama State in overtime. The Braves found a way to win when it mattered most.

PAST HBCU POWER RANKINGS: Preseason | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

11. Southern | SWAC | 2-2 (2-0) | Prev: 12

Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Southern's defense looked how we thought it would in the preseason. The Jaguars shut out the Golden Lions and even got an in-season addition of defensive back Demitri Morsell as the former HBCU All-American returned from injury. Don't sleep on Southern, now at 2-0 in SWAC play with losses against Alabama State and Jackson State not counting against the standings.

12. Morgan State | MEAC | 1-4 (0-0) | Prev: 7

Morgan State beat a "ranked" Richmond team to open the season. Since that win, the Bears have lost four straight games, and that same Richmond team is 2-3 on the season. Could talks of Morgan State's rise have been premature?

13. North Carolina A&T | CAA | 1-3 (0-1) | Prev: 14

North Carolina A&T finally got in the win column after beating Norfolk State. Aggies fans should be excited about the win, and they should also be excited about the potential of dual-threat freshman quarterback Kevin White, who looked like he could finally provide stability to a position that's been shaky for the last two years.

🐐: Here are the greatest individual seasons in HBCU football history

14. Norfolk State | MEAC | 2-3 (0-0) | Prev: 15

Norfolk State lost a heartbreaker at home to North Carolina A&T, but two FCS wins keep the Spartans steady entering their bye week.

15. South Carolina State | MEAC | 1-3 (0-0) | Prev: 16

South Carolina State had a bye last week.

16. Alabama State | SWAC | 1-3 (0-2) | Prev: 11

Alabama State has fallen a long way since a preseason top-10 ranking, so much so that even a season-opening win over Southern can't keep the Hornets from sliding. The loss to DII program Miles earlier in the season also doesn't help.

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

17. Texas Southern | SWAC | 1-4 (0-2) | Prev: 17

Texas Southern finally got a win — albeit against a non-DI Lincoln (CA) team — but the bigger news of star quarterback Andrew Body's medical redshirt limits how far the Tigers can go.

18. Bethune-Cookman | SWAC | 1-3 (0-1) | Prev: 18

Bethune-Cookman had a bye last week.

19. Arkansas-Pine Bluff | SWAC | 1-4 (0-2) | Prev: 19

The Golden Lions got shut out against Southern, not scoring a point for the first time since 2018.

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

20. Delaware State | MEAC | 1-4 (0-0) | Prev: 20

A win over Virginia Lynchburg doesn't move me, nor does it move the Hornets in these rankings.

21. Mississippi Valley State | SWAC | 0-4 (0-0) | Prev: 21

Mississippi Valley State fought hard at home against Florida A&M — Itta Bena is always a tough spot to play — but ultimately, the Rattlers had more talent than the Delta Devils.

🏆: HBCU football championship history


Week 6 HBCU Power Rankings
1 North Carolina Central
2 Florida A&M
3 Hampton
4 Jackson State
5 Tennessee State
6 Howard
7 Grambling State
8 Alabama A&M
9 Prairie View A&M
10 Alcorn State
11 Southern
12 Morgan State
13 North Carolina A&T
14 Norfolk State
15 South Carolina State
16 Alabama State
17 Texas Southern
18 Bethune-Cookman
19 Arkansas-Pine Bluff
20 Delaware State
21 Mississippi Valley State

All-HBCU: The top HBCU football players, by position, from the 2023 season

These are the top players, by position, from the 2023 HBCU football season.

Grambling State-Southern football: Memorable moments, all-time history of the Bayou Classic

​​It's been more than 85 years since Grambling State and Southern first battled on the gridiron. Here are key moments from their rivalry and an all-time history of the series.

2023 SWAC Championship: Date, time, location, tv channel, history

Here's the what you need to know for the 2023 SWAC Championship Game, including a list of past SWAC champions and how teams qualify for the postseason game.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners