The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference had five teams share the league title last season, but only Morgan State advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
At the midpoint of the 2015 campaign, the five co-champions — Morgan State, Bethune-Cookman, North Carolina A&T State, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State — are joined by Norfolk State in a six-team logjam at the top of the MEAC standings.
Unfortunately, for five of those clubs, there can be only one MEAC champion playing the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Dec. 19 in Atlanta for the inaugural Celebration Bowl.
Heading into the weekend, NC A&T (5-1, 3-0) sits in first place with five teams giving chase with one MEAC loss each. B-CU (5-2, 3-1) and Morgan (3-3, 3-1) are mathematically ahead of NCCU (3-3, 2-1), SCSU (3-3, 2-1) and Norfolk State (2-4, 2-1).
Hampton (4-3, 3-2) is sitting behind the traffic jam, and here’s where the MEAC gets interesting. The 11 football-playing schools in the league play an 8-game conference schedule and — you guessed it — some teams do not play each other in MEAC play.
That means teams, coaches and fans will continue the regular season with one eye on the game in front of them and another on the scoreboard.
North Carolina A&T: The 24th-ranked Aggies take on Howard for homecoming this weekend before going to Tallahassee to play Florida A&M on Halloween. NC A&T ends its season with a crucial MEAC road game against South Carolina State (Nov. 7), followed by home games against Delaware State (Nov. 14) and its annual rivalry game against North Carolina Central (Nov. 21).
NC A&T has wins over Norfolk State and Bethune-Cookman — thus owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Aggies do not play Morgan State this season.
Bethune-Cookman: B-CU entertains Norfolk State this weekend before traveling north to take on Delaware State on Halloween. The Wildcats have a home date (Nov. 7) against Morgan State before taking a two-week break before ending the season in Orlando, Florida at the Florida Classic against FAMU.
B-CU holds victories over N.C. Central and S.C. State, but lost to A&T. The Wildcats have played, or will play, the other five teams at the top of the standings.
Morgan State: Morgan travels to take on NCCU Saturday, and will stay on the road the following week to take on B-CU. The Bears end the season with home games against FAMU (Nov. 14) and Norfolk (Nov. 21).
The Bears’ only conference loss came last week as Hampton spoiled Morgan’s homecoming. Morgan does not play North Carolina A&T this season.
North Carolina Central: The Eagles get a three-week homestand in Durham, starting with Morgan State Saturday, followed by Norfolk State and ending Nov. 7 against Delaware State. NCCU ends the season with a Nov. 14 road trip to Howard and a road trip to face rival North Carolina A&T (Nov. 21).
The Eagles lost 28-26 to Bethune-Cookman for its only MEAC loss. NCCU does not play South Carolina State.
South Carolina State: SCSU takes on Delaware State on the road Saturday before returning to Orangeburg to entertain Hampton on Halloween. The Bulldogs play host to North Carolina A&T (Nov. 7) before finishing the regular season on the road at Norfolk (Nov. 14) and Savannah State (Nov. 21).
The Bulldogs’ only conference loss came against Bethune-Cookman. SCSU has played or will have played all other contenders except for N.C. Central and Morgan State.
Norfolk State: NSU takes on Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla., Saturday, followed by a Halloween road game at N.C. Central. The Spartans host Savannah State Nov. 7 for homecoming, followed by a home game against S.C. State (Nov. 14). Norfolk ends the season Nov. 21 in Baltimore against Morgan State.
The Spartans’ only conference loss was to North Carolina A&T. NSU has played, or will play, the other MEAC contenders.