A quick show of hands, how many of you thought North Carolina Central would be in a battle for conference supremacy nine weeks into the season?
If you raised your hand you can put it down now. You can also consider yourself among the few that actually saw this coming. NCCU finished 4-7 in 2008 and 2009; in 2010 they finished 3-8 and Head Coach Mose Rison was fired midway through the season; and last season NC Central finished with a 2-9 overall record. The Eagles were predicted to finish in the bottom third of the conference in the MEAC’s preseason poll. Yet, the Eagles find themselves tied atop the conference standings and playing for sole possession of first place at the end of October. Go figure!
The uninformed may classify the Eagles’ 2012 campaign as the “F” word (i.e. fluke), but that would be disingenuous to Head Coach Henry Frazier, his staff, and the North Carolina Central football team.
At 5-2, the Eagles have already accumulated their highest win total (5) since 2007. NCCU is ranked:
*1st in the MEAC in Scoring Offense (33.0 points per game),
*1st in the MEAC in Run Defense (109 yards per game),
*1st in the MEAC and 2nd in the nation is punt return average (23.5 yards per return), and
*1st in the nation and MEAC in special teams touchdowns (3 punt return TDs and 1 kickoff return TD).
Also (as SOAR from MEACFans Zone pointed out), in comparisons to BCU, NCCU has a greater margin of victory against common opponents this season:
NCCU 40 vs SCSU 10 (NCCU +30)
BCU 27 vs SCSU 14 (BCU +13)
NCCU 37 vs Hampton 20 (NCCU +17)
BCU 36 vs Hampton 26 (BCU +10).
The bottom line is North Carolina Central is a legitimate contender for the conference crown and they have earned their success this year.
“I am not surprised by (NCCU’s) success” coach Brian Jenkins stated. “I knew a change would take place”. “No disrespect to anyone else but look at Coach Frazier’s prior record. He is proven by the results that he got at Prairie View”.
No Easy Win
Henry Frazier’s team will need to put on their best performance of the year if they hope to pull off the upset in Daytona Beach. Bethune-Cookman enters the contest riding a league best 9 game conference win streak. The last time the two teams met, BCU racked up 525 yards of offense in a 34-6 thumping of the Eagles.
The Wildcats have seemed to stabilize their offense under the guidance of redshirt freshman quarterback Quentin Williams. Williams has started the past three games for BCU and has yet to throw an interception this season. Last week Williams threw for a career high 157 yards passing completing 9 of 11 attempts with 2 touchdowns in the process. Fellow quarterback, Brock Waters, finished the contest with a team high 103 yards rushing. It was Waters second time eclipsing the 100 yard rushing mark this season. Waters also hooked up with Jhomo Gordon on a 13 yard touchdown strike.
The Wildcat defense will look to slow down the conference’s #1 ranked scoring offense in NC Central. Yogi Jones’ defensive unit looked dominant in their performance last week against Norfolk State forcing the Spartans into 3 turnovers and limiting them to just 3 points.
BCU’s special teams, particularly the kickoff and punt coverage units, will need to pay close attention to detail in this contest. NCCU’s Arthur Goforth and Geovoine Irvine are two of the best return men in the country. The Eagles have returned 3 punts and 1 kickoff return for a touchdown this season. NCCU is also averaging over 23 yards per punt return. YIKES!
Kickoff is still slated for a 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Municipal Stadium. The latest projections have the storm moving out of the region by late Friday night, leading into the early hours of Saturday morning.
“The university has been in contact with the emergency management agencies in Volusia County and continues to monitor the track of Hurricane Sandy,” said Lynn Thompson, B-CU Director of Athletics. “At present, our plans remain firm to kick off our regularly scheduled football game against North Carolina Central University tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Municipal Stadium. The reports indicate that weather conditions will be suitable for us to play the game at its stated time.”
Live video will be available through the CatEye Network on BCUathletics.com.
An Ode to Rev. Williams
Weather permitting and in my best BCU public address announcer, Rev. Isidore Williams’ voice,
“In a few short hours the question will be answered;
who will ascend to the top of the mountain.
Will it be the Eagles of North Carolina Central University of Durham North Carolina?
Or will it be the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University of Daytona Beach Florida”?