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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | October 3, 2022

HBCU football Power Rankings Week 6: North Carolina A&T rejoins top 10, Tennessee State free falls

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

SWAC play is in full swing and MEAC play begins this week. It's time for Week 6's HBCU football power rankings

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 6 HBCU Football Power Rankings

Movement in Week 6
Team Movement
Tennessee State -8
Alabama A&M +4
Morgan State +3
Delaware State, North Carolina A&T, Southern +2
Arkansas-Pine Bluff -2

1. Jackson State | SWAC | 4-0 (3-0) | Prev: 1

Jackson State had a bye week and stands alone as the only undefeated FCS HBCU.

2. Alcorn State | SWAC | 2-2 (1-0) | Prev: 3

Alcorn State had a bye week and moved up thanks to teams above it losing.

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3. North Carolina Central | MEAC | 4-1 (0-0) | Prev: 2

North Carolina Central was dominated in the trenches against Campbell. Not a good sign as the Eagles head into MEAC play.

4. Prairie View A&M | SWAC | 3-2 (3-0) | Prev: 4

Prairie View A&M has three wins, all against SWAC opponents. The Panthers most recently defeated Grambling, but a lackluster second half keeps them from leapfrogging into the top three.

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

Hampton had a bye week and stands pat at No. 5 without any of the surrounding teams making a move.

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

6. Southern | SWAC | 2-2 (1-1) | Prev: 8

When Southern wins, it wins dominantly. When it loses... well, it loses dominantly too. Southern's wishy-washiness is perplexing, but the Jaguars rise two spots because the signs of dominance are there.

7. South Carolina State | MEAC | 1-3 (0-0) | Prev: 6

South Carolina State didn't drop because of an FBS loss. It dropped because a team surpassed the Bulldogs.

8. Florida A&M | SWAC | 3-2 (2-1) | Prev: 7

Florida A&M picked up a win over Mississippi Valley State, but the Rattlers started slow again, only holding a seven-point lead entering halftime against an inferior team. That's ultimately what allowed Southern to surpass the Rattlers this week. Moreover, Florida A&M looks like a championship-caliber team at home, but it needs to pass next week's road test to prove that it truly belongs in the top 10.

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9. North Carolina A&T | Big South | 2-3 (1-0) | Prev: 11

North Carolina A&T is on a two-game winning streak after picking up its first Big South win of the season against Bryant. The Aggies forced turnovers all night, and running back Bhayshul Tuten ran for 100 yards in his fourth straight game.

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

Alabama State picked up its first win since Week 1 against a rising Texas Southern team. The Hornets continue to compete just well enough to hold on to the 10th spot.

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

11. Delaware State | MEAC | 3-2 (0-0) | Prev: 13

Special teams is the most underrated phase of a football game, just ask Delaware State. The Hornets scored their second — and final — touchdown of a 14-9 win over Robert Morris thanks to capitalizing off a Colonial special teams error. With the win, Delaware State picked up its first FCS win of the season. 

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

Texas Southern continues to look like a competitive team, even in losses. The Tigers were in a battle with Alabama State late into the fourth quarter. That keeps Texas Southern stagnant in this week's power rankings, still carried by a shutout of Southern a few weeks ago. 

13. Morgan State | MEAC | 2-2 (0-0) | Prev: 16

Morgan State played Virginia University of Lynchburg and dominated as it should. Back-to-back wins have the Bears nearing the top 10.

No. 14-17

14. Alabama A&M | SWAC | 1-4 (1-1) | Prev: 18
15. Bethune-Cookman | SWAC | 1-3 (1-1) | Prev: 14
16. Grambling State | SWAC | 1-4 (0-2) | Prev: 15

I'll keep this simple for this trio of rankings:

Alabama A&M beat Bethune-Cookman, which beat Grambling State. Ta Da! That's how the order was determined.

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17. Tennessee State | OVC | 0-4 (0-0) | Prev: 9

If you want to tell me Tennessee State should be at the bottom of this list after losing to Lane, a Division II program, I think you'd have a valid argument. The only other FCS HBCU to lose to a DII program this year has been Mississippi Valley State so that makes sense. 

However, Tennessee State's free fall stops at No. 17 because starting quarterback and running back Draylen Ellis and Devon Starling missed this week's loss. When the duo was healthy, we saw a Tennessee State team that competed into the fourth quarter with two ranked opponents. However, two players don't make a team, so the Tigers must drop with a disappointing loss.

18. Howard | MEAC | 1-4 (0-0) | Prev: 19

Howard is still searching for its first FBS win, keeping the Bison from rising any higher. Howard has yet to play a true home game this season, as they continue to fight off the road fatigue.

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19. Arkansas-Pine Bluff | SWAC | 2-3 (0-2) | Prev: 17

Arkansas-Pine Bluff had an embarrassing loss to Southern. Remember, the Golden Lions have yet to beat an FCS opponent despite having two wins.

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

0-5 in non-conference play to open the season isn't a good sign for Norfolk State, but with MEAC play up next, hope is still alive for the Spartans.

🏆: HBCU football championship history

21. Mississippi Valley State | SWAC | 0-5 (0-2) | Prev: 21

Make that six halves and 14 quarters that Mississippi Valley State has gone scoreless this season.

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