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Stan Becton | | September 18, 2023

Hampton rises, North Carolina A&T plummets in Week 4's HBCU football power rankings

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Week 4 of HBCU football is here, meaning a lot of HBCUs are about to enter conference play โ€” if they haven't already. Before teams take the gridiron, here's how the latest HBCU football power 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 4 HBCU football power rankings

1. North Carolina Central | MEAC | 2-1 | Prev: 1

North Carolina Central lost its first game of the year to FBS-ranked UCLA. ย It was a difficult task to have NCCU become just the seventh FCS team to upset a ranked FBS foe all-time, so that loss won't knock the Eagles from the top spot.

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2. Florida A&M | SWAC | 2-1 | Prev: 2

Florida A&M escaped a potential DII trap game against powerhouse West Florida with a 31-10 win. The Rattlers extended the FCS's second-longest home winning streak to 16 wins in a row.

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

3. Tennessee State | Big South-OVC | 2-1 | Prev: 6

Tennessee State just pulled off the biggest win of Eddie George's coaching career, taking down a Gardner-Webb team that was in the FCS playoffs last year. While the Tigers needed a game-winning field goal to pull it off, a win is a win. Tennessee State is now tied for the Big South-OVC conference lead entering its bye week.

4. Jackson State | SWAC | 2-2 | Prev: 4

Special Teams remains an issue for Jackson State, but a loss to an FBS opponent won't hurt the Tigers in the power rankings.

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5. Hampton | CAA | 2-1 | Prev: 10

Resilience. That defined Hampton's win over Howard after rallying from a second-half deficit. The Pirates are 2-1 on the season, finishing its season-opening HBCU stretch with a winning record. Hampton enters CAA play next week, with its final HBCU game of the year being an interconference matchup against North Carolina A&T on Halloweekend.

6. Alcorn State | SWAC | 1-2 | Prev: 7

There weren't many wins in HBCU football this week against FCS opponents, but Alcorn State got a solid nonconference win against McNeese. It's the first win for the Braves to build momentum entering a SWAC West battle against Prairie View A&M next week.

7. Morgan State | MEAC | 1-2 | Prev: 3

Not one, not two, not three, but six straight Morgan State losses to Towson. If that opening sentence reminds you of when NBA great LeBron James joined the Miami Heat, it should. 2011 was Lebron's first year in Miami, and it's how far back Morgan State's losing streak goes.

Towson isn't expected to be a heavy hitter in the CAA this year, so Morgan State's loss to a cross-town rival brings the Bears back down to earth.

PAST HBCU POWER RANKINGS:ย Preseasonย |ย Week 2ย | Week 3

8. Prairie View A&M | SWAC | 1-2 | Prev: 8

Prairie View A&M lost to FBS opponent SMU, but the loss won't hurt the Panthers in the rankings.

9. Howard | MEAC | 1-2 | Prev: 5

Howard drops four spots after it blew a 17-point lead in the second half to lose to Hampton. How did they do it? Because of mistakes that led to a 93-yard rushing touchdown and punting miscues. The biggest cause for concern was Howard's inability to stop the run down the stretch, leading to Hampton's 7.6 yards per carry. Howard will need to fix these issues before MEAC play starts.

10. Alabama State | SWAC | 1-1 | Prev: 12

Alabama State returns to the top 10 after a bye week, but only because of a head-to-head win over Southern. That Division II loss still looks bad.

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11. Southern | SWAC | 1-2 | Prev: 15

Southern picked up its first win of the season over Alabama A&M, but the two season-opening SWAC losses still hang over the program.

12. Texas Southern | SWAC | 0-3 | Prev: 11

Texas Southern played its second FBS opponent in as many weeks, losing again in blowout fashion. Next, the Tigers will face a pivotal SWAC game against Grambling State to show how good of a team it can be this year.

13. Alabama A&M | SWAC | 1-2 | Prev: 13

It turns out Alabama A&M wasn't ready to bite in its conference opener, only scoring 10 points against Southern. The Bulldog offense's struggles returned as they rushed for negative 17 yards, and quarterback Quincy Casey failed to throw a touchdown.

14. North Carolina A&T | CAA | 0-3 | Prev: 9

North Carolina A&T's offense had another game with three scoreless quarters and failed to score a touchdown in its CAA opener against Elon. The Aggie offense has gone scoreless in eight of 12 quarters in three games, managing just one offensive touchdown.

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15. Bethune-Cookman | SWAC | 1-2 | Prev: 14

Bethune-Cookman was overmatched against an FBS-ranked Miami (FL) squad. That loss won't hurt the Wildcats in these rankings.

16. Grambling State | SWAC | 1-2 | Prev: 16

A win over Florida Memorial doesn't move the needle for Grambling State. The win is head coach Hue Jackson's fourth at Grambling and his seventh in his career since 2016.

17. Norfolk State | MEAC | 1-2 | Prev: 18

Norfolk State added an FBS loss to an FCS win and a DII loss on its resume. After that trifecta, the FCS win is enough to slightly separate the Spartans from the rest of the teams at the bottom of the rankings.

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18. Arkansas-Pine Bluff | SWAC | 1-2 | Prev: 17

If not for a missed extra point, Arkansas-Pine Bluff might've needed overtime to escape Miles. The near DII loss was enough to drop the Golden Lions below Norfolk State.

19. South Carolina State | MEAC | 0-3 | Prev: 19

South Carolina State stays in place after a bye week.

RELATED:ย How Jackson State defeated South Carolina State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge

20. Delaware State | MEAC | 0-3 | Prev: 21

Delaware State lost to Richmond to fall to 0-3. While the Hornets may have the same record as South Carolina State, DSU's loss to a DII opponent keeps it below the Bulldogs

21. Mississippi Valley State | SWAC | 0-2 | Prev: 20

Mississippi Valley State lost its second game to a Division II opponent, losing to Delta State after having a bye week. Those two DII losses will make it hard for the Delta Devils to rise from the bottom spot.

๐Ÿ†:ย HBCU football championship history


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

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