The top five of Week 5's HBCU football power rankings has a new look as conference play begins to pick up across the country.
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 5 HBCU Football Power Rankings
Biggest movers in Week 5
- Bethune-Cookman +5
- North Carolina A&T, Prairie View A&M +3
- Grambling State, Norfolk State, South Carolina State, Tennessee State -3
1. Jackson State | SWAC | 4-0 (3-0) | Prev: 1
Jackson State started slow again against Mississippi Valley State, but the Tigers showed that when they flip the switch, few can compete. Jackson State will have a bye in the upcoming week.
2. North Carolina Central | MEAC | 4-0 (0-0) | Prev: 2
North Carolina Central handled its business against Virginia University of Lynchburg. No changes here.
3. Alcorn State | SWAC | 2-2 (1-0) | Prev: 4
Alcorn State picked up its second straight win, beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Braves flexed their muscle in the second half, scoring 28 straight points to secure the win. Running back Jarveon Howard looked like a star rushing for 295 yards and four touchdowns.
4. Prairie View A&M | SWAC | 2-2 (2-0) | Prev: 7
Prairie View A&M maintained its lead in the SWAC West, never trailing in its win over Alabama State. The passing game is steadily showing improvement.
5. Hampton | CAA | 3-1 (0-1) | Prev: 5
Hampton lost to No. 8 Delaware 35-3 in the first-ever CAA game for the Pirates. Against one of the best teams in the FCS, Hampton struggled to pass the ball and stop the pass. However, Hampton's 3-0 start, coupled with other teams losing keep the Pirates fifth in this week's rankings.
6. South Carolina State | MEAC | 1-2 (0-0) | Prev: 3
South Carolina State has a North Carolina A&T problem. The Bulldogs have lost seven straight to their rival. This go-around, South Carolina State only gained 12 yards on the ground. While the defense looks like it can keep the Bulldogs in games, South Carolina State must fix the offensive issues shown last week if it wants to repeat as MEAC Champions.
7. Florida A&M | SWAC | 2-2 (1-1) | Prev: 9
Two years in the SWAC. Two Florida A&M comeback victories over Alabama A&M. The Rattlers say they "Bragg different" and with a 12-game home winning streak, they continue to back up that claim.
8. Southern | SWAC | 1-2 (0-1) | Prev: 8
Southern had a bye last week, but surpassed Tennessee State in the rankings after its most recent opponent, Texas Southern played tough against UTSA. Southern's most recent loss looks better now than it did a week ago.
9. Tennessee State | OVC | 0-3 (0-0) | Prev: 6
Tennessee State was on a bye last week. The Tigers are hanging on to the top 10 thanks to quality losses, but need to get in the win column this week to prevent a major drop.
10. Alabama State | SWAC | 2-2 (0-1) | Prev: 10
Alabama State lost to Prairie View A&M, suffering its first SWAC loss. However, a 2-0 start to the season keeps the Hornets inside the top 10.
11. North Carolina A&T | Big South | 1-3 (0-0) | Prev: 14
Make that seven straight for North Carolina A&T over South Carolina State. When running back Bhayshul Tuten is rolling like he was en route to 140 yards and two touchdowns, the Aggies look like everyone predicted in the preseason.
12. Texas Southern | SWAC | 1-3 (1-1) | Prev: 13
Texas Southern trailed FBS opponent UTSA 21-17 entering halftime. While the Tigers couldn't hang in the second half, they showed impressive fight coming off a big win two weeks ago.
13. Delaware State | MEAC | 2-2 (0-0) | Prev: 11
Delaware State fell behind 14-0 and couldn't recover against Merrimack. Quarterback Jared Lewis remains injured, but the offensive line didn't help his backup, C.J. Henry, allowing seven sacks. The Hornets have yet to beat an FCS opponent.
14. Bethune-Cookman | SWAC | 1-2 (1-0) | Prev: 19
Bethune-Cookman picked up its first win of the season, knocking off Grambling State with 16 fourth-quarter points. The Wildcats got star tight end Kemari Averett going as he finished with five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
15. Grambling State | SWAC | 1-3 (0-2) | Prev: 12
Grambling State is 0-2 in SWAC play under new head coach Hue Jackson. The Tigers have to figure out how to play a complete game to rise in the rankings and to wear the historic G on the side of their helmets.
16. Morgan State | MEAC | 1-2 (0-0) | Prev: 18
Morgan State was on a bye last week, but the Bears moved up in the rankings thanks to teams falling and because their lone win over Sacred Heart looks even better after the Pioneers defeated defending Ivy League champion Dartmouth.
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17. Arkansas-Pine Bluff | SWAC | 2-2 (0-1) | Prev: 15
At 2-2, Arkansas-Pine Bluff is the lowest ranked team of any FCS HBCU with a winning record. Why? Arkansas-Pine Bluff's two wins came against a Division II opponent and an NAIA opponent, with the Golden Lions needing a strong fourth quarter to secure a close DII win.
18. Alabama A&M | SWAC | 0-4 (0-1) | Prev: 16
Alabama A&M had its best offensive performance of the season in the first half against Florida A&M. However, a second-half collapse for the second straight year shows that work still needs to be done.
19. Howard | MEAC | 1-3 (0-0) | Prev: 20
Howard was on a bye last week, but moves up one spot thanks to Norfolk State dropping. The Bison have one win on the year, but it came against a winless Division II team.
20. Norfolk State | MEAC | 0-4 (0-0) | Prev: 17
Norfolk State fell to 0-4 after losing to Saint Francis (Pa.). While the Spartans looked better on offense, gaining a season-high in total yards, that came after falling behind 21-0.
21. Mississippi Valley State | SWAC | 0-4 (0-1) | Prev: 21
Mississippi Valley State has gone scoreless in five halves and 11 quarters this season. The Delta Devils remain the only FCS HBCU with a DII loss.