When Bethune-Cookman squares off against South Carolina State tomorrow night at 6:00, it could very well be a showdown of the two best teams in all of HBCU football. Both teams enter the contest coming off of impressive victories. The Bulldogs defeated Georgia State of the formidable CAA conference convincingly on the road. The Dogs racked up 488 yards of offense on their way to a 33-6 victory over GSU. Quarterback Richard Cue led SCSU with 300 yards passing and three touchdowns. Wide Receivers Caleb Davis and Lennel Elmore both eclipsed the 100 yard receiving mark in the contest.
The Wildcats started slowly in their Week 1 matchup and fell behind 21-0 against Alabama State. But the Beach Cats found their form in the 2nd quarter and steamrolled to a 38-28 win in last week’s MEAC/SWAC Challenge. Senior quarterback Brock Waters replaced Jackie Wilson midway through the second quarter and was responsible for three BCU touchdowns (2 passing and 1 rushing) in the contest. Waters (100 yds) joined running backs Isidore Jackson (123 yds) and Rodney Scott (103 yds) as 100 yard rushers in last week’s contest. BCU tallied 551 total yards of offense on the afternoon and will hope to carry that momentum into Oliver C Dawson Stadium where they have experienced a good deal of success recently. In fact, the Wildcats have won 4 of their last 5 meetings on the Bulldog’s home field; the last of which was 14-0 shutout in 2010.
The Wildcats and Bulldogs are eerily similar in terms of overall talent, team speed, and size but the similarities do not just stop there.
- SCSU head coach Buddy Pough has never finished worse than 2nd in the MEAC’s final standings; but neither has BCU coach Brian Jenkins.
- Bethune returns 9 starters on offense from 2011; and so do the Bulldogs.
- SCSU loss 7 starters from last season’s defense; BCU loss 6 starters from their 2011 defense.
- Both teams have dual threat quarterbacks (SCSU-Richard Cue; BCU-Brock Waters/Jackie Wilson) and a host of talented wide receivers. The teams also have very experienced offensive lines and a plethora of new but talented starters on defense.
- The teams are 8-7 in their last 15 head-to-head matchups with BCU holding the 1 game advantage during that span.
- Bethune has won 4 of the last 5 games played in Orangeburg, while South Carolina State has won 3 straight in Daytona Beach.
- South Carolina State appears to have an advantage in special teams with dangerous return men, Lennel Elmore and Darius Drummond fielding punts and kickoffs.
- Bethune seems to have a clear advantage in the rushing attack in running backs Isidore Jackson and Rodney Scott. And if last week’s performance is any indication, Brock Waters is as valuable in the running game as any other player on BCU’s roster.
3 keys to victory for BCU
1. Know who to block—BCU has a very experienced offensive line. That experience will be put to the test against SCSU’s heavy blitzing, 3-4 defensive scheme. BCU enjoyed a great deal of success running the ball right at the Bulldog defense last year. The Wildcats should have success running the ball again this year. In the passing game, BCU’s offensive line and quarterback(s) must account for all rushers. If that happens, BCU’s offense could have a huge night.
2. Connect in the passing game when called upon—The Wildcats boasted one of the best rushing attacks in the country in 2011. They carried that trend into Week 1 where they racked up 367 yards on the ground. The Cats will need to connect on enough throws in the passing game to keep the Bulldog defense from committing too many players to stop the run. If/when SCSU commit those extra bodies against the run, the Wildcats will need to take advantage of the single coverage and connect on plays down the field in the passing game.
3. Don’t give up too much on special teams—Coach Jenkins cited Darius Drummond’s two punt returns that ended inside the 20 yard line as the key factors in his team’s 26-18 defeat to SCSU last season. BCU cannot afford to have history repeat itself again this season if they hope to win.
BCU wins impressively 34-17.
The game can be viewed live (6:00 P.M.) on WatchESPN or on ESPNU on tape delay beginning at 10:30 P.M.