The Grambling State Tigers and South Carolina State Bulldogs will participate in the fifth annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando, FL on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. This will be the opening game for both teams.When GSU has the ball:
Ten starters return and all eyes will be on the continued progression of QB Greg Dillon who is the pure definition of a dual threat quarterback. He nearly ran for 700 yards while completing 18 touchdown passes. Frank Warren and Cornelius Walker return as one of the best running back duos in black college football. Kiare Thompson also returns as the Tigers leading receiver and will be joined by a young receiving core. However, two players to watch out for are WR Rodale Pippen and TE Larry Donnell. Donnell is a natural mismatch and Pippen has the makings of becoming a game breaker.
South Carolina State’s defense was impressive last year. The Bulldogs ranked 11th in the nation in total defense and return six starters. SCSU lost MLB Marshall McFadden this season to an injury and will be replaced by Julius Wilkerson. Markee Hamlin and Rafael Bush return as two of the best defensive backs in the MEAC. If Grambling’s offensive line is able to open up lanes for their rushing attack, it may be a long day for the Bulldogs. However, if they aren’t able to establish a running game, GSU will be taken away from what it does best; controlling the pace of the game.
When SCSU has the ball:
Will Ford ranks exceptionally high among college football running backs. He nearly had 1500 yards with 13 touchdowns last season. However, if Ford is thunder, then RB Travil Jamison has got to be lightning. Jamison is an explosive back who is a threat each time he has the ball. He led the team in touchdowns last season with 16.
Oliver (Tre’) Young returns as South Carolina State’s leading receiver with a record of 48 receptions. He will be QB Malcolm Long’s go-to receiver. Long is a quality passer who threw for nearly 2000 yards while completing 57 percent of his passes.
Grambling led the nation in turnovers forced last season and will be led by Christian Anthony who had 55 tackles with eight sacks and is primed for even bigger numbers this year. Bruno Foster might be the best kept secret in the SWAC and Nigel Copeland leads a loaded secondary.
It will be strength versus strength as SCSU likes to run the ball and GSU keys on stopping the run. While Ford and Jamison are the best 1-2 punch in HBCU football, the offensive line, which will have three new starters, has to provide room to run; a feat that is very hard to imagine against Grambling’s defense.
Whichever team’s offensive line plays the best will win. It’s as simple as that. With that logic you have to go with Grambling, they return the entire offensive line from last year.