Alcorn State vs. NC Central Odds, Picks, Predictions: Betting Value on Saturday’s Prime-Time Matchup (Aug. 28)
Mike Comer/Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Totten.
- The Alcorn State Braves take on the NC Central Eagles in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in prime time on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.
- Alcorn State enters as a relatively large favorite, but Terrell Furman Jr. doesn't think anything will slow the Braves down on Saturday.
- Check out Furman's full breakdown below, complete with updated odds, a pick, and a prediction.
Alcorn State vs. NC Central Odds
The college football season is back in action on Saturday, Aug. 28 with two teams that opted out of the 2020 season as Alcorn State takes on NC Central in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge.
With two teams that haven’t played since 2019, how should bettors approach this prime-time matchup?
Let’s dig in.
The Alcorn State Braves return to college football after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Braves ended the 2019 season with their second consecutive SWAC championship and a trip to the Celebration Bowl. The Braves will look to continue their conquest as one of the top-three HBCUs in the nation starting with the MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Saturday evening.
Senior quarterback Felix Harper returns after finishing the 2019 season as the SWAC’s Offensive Player of the Year. He passed for 2,954 yards and 33 touchdowns while adding 169 rushing yards and another six scores on the ground.
However, he will not have his leading rusher and receiver from that season.
This does not mean he is left empty-handed, though, as sophomore running back Niko Duffey and senior receiver LeCharles Pringle are returning from big 2019 campaigns. Duffy rushed for 838 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman. Pringle racked up 828 receiving yards and recorded an outstanding 14 touchdowns on the season.
C.J. Bolar transfers in from Vanderbilt after a 440-yard, two-touchdown freshman season and an injury-plagued sophomore year.
Alcorn State’s offense is explosive and can run up the score at a moment’s notice. It averaged 33.6 points per game in the 2019 season.
However, the Braves have one glaring “question mark” on their roster: The offensive line. The unit is breaking in a lot of players on the line, and there are going to be some growing pains.
Like the offense, the Braves have a lot of turnover on defense from the unit that held teams to 23 points per game in 2019. The secondary has a lot of new faces. It lost one of its best defensive backs in Qwynnterrio Cole to the Louisville Cardinals.
Nonetheless, this is still a great secondary with senior safety Juwan Taylor coming off his first season with the team in 2019. Taylor finished with 89 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. The secondary is also anchored by Taurence Wilson, who led the Braves with four interceptions.
Then, they have reinforcements coming in with Emanuel Dabney (via Liberty), E.J. Thomas (via Kansas State), and Malcolm Magee (via Colorado State) — a huge haul that helps fortify a defense that led the FCS in turnovers and interceptions in 2019.
The North Carolina Central Eagles will take the field on Saturday in hopes of righting the ship after their 4-8 2019 season. They, too, did not play football in 2020 and will have to find themselves as this season progresses.
Head coach Trei Oliver enters his second active season with aspirations to take over a MEAC conference that is now without North Carolina A&T and Florida A&M.
The Eagles had a very stagnant offense when they last played ball. They could not get into a rhythm early, racking up only 23 first-quarter points throughout the season and an average 17.5 points per game.
Sophomore Davius Richard had a solid freshman campaign with over 2,000 yards passing. Running back Isaiah Totten is on the Black College Football Player of the Year watch list after finishing 2019 with 636 rushing yards and three scores.
The offensive line features two preseason second-team All-MEAC awardees in Corey Bullock and Robert Mitchell.
Richard will rely on his receivers to gain separation and make plays to push the ball downfield.
The defense is going to have some turnover with the loss of former MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Darius Royster and defensive back Bryan Mills off to the NFL.
The Eagles will also rely primarily on their secondary, as the defensive line ushers in a nearly brand-new unit.
Senior defensive back Stephen Stokes returns after recording two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2019. Junior Justin Nicholson led the team with nine passes defended.
They are going to need a strong showing against a veteran Alcorn State receiving group.
Alcorn State vs. NC Central Betting Pick
Both offenses will require in-game reps to find their strides after a full-year hiatus off the field. As a result, the matchup should favor a defensive game script — especially early in the contest. Both teams are very strong in the secondary, each possessing playmakers capable of creating momentum via forced turnovers.
North Carolina Central’s Richard is decent, but he does not have the downfield talent that Alcorn State’s Harper has around him. Totten should have his way with the Braves front, but it may not be enough to match the explosiveness of Alcorn State’s offense.
The Braves sat at home in 2020, unable to defend their back-to-back SWAC Championships. Expect Alcorn State to make a statement in Atlanta.
The line for this game opened with Alcorn State as a heavy favorite at -13.5. I bet the game at -14.5 at FanDuel at -105 odds.
Typically, books do not add odds for many HBCU matchups until the day before the game kicks off. So, monitor odds availability closely leading up to kickoff by using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Pick: Alcorn State -14.5.