Hampton vs Howard 2021: Players to watch and predictions for breakout stars

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Howard at Maryland
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The Howard University Bison (0-2) and Hampton Pirates (1-1) will face off in the first-ever Truth & Service Classic at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, September 18th at 12 pm ET on NBCSN. This historic meeting will mark the 96th meeting between these two teams, who make up one of the oldest HBCU rivalries.

The Pirates lead the series 53-41-1 and look to continue their four-game win streak against the Bison dating back to 2015. Howard has not won this matchup since a 30-29 win in 2014 and as the home team for the game played at Audi Field, home of the MLS team D.C. United, the Bison look to win their first game of this season.

The Bison, led by first-year head coach Larry Scott, are a very young team, and this matchup against a long-time opponent could set the pace for what this team could accomplish in the future.

So, don’t sleep on the Bison.

RELATED: Hampton vs Howard 2021 – Looking back at the legacy of a historic HBCU rivalry

Who are the players to look out for from Howard?

Quinton Williams, Junior, QB

In Howard’s first game of the 2021 season, Williams went 17 for 27 for 226 yards and a touchdown in the loss against the University of Richmond. Although he followed that up with only 67 passing yards in a loss against the University of Maryland in Week 2, Williams is proving that he can lead this team. In a strong 2019 season, Williams garnered 936 passing yards and 8 touchdowns, showing what he’s capable of when hot and proving he can make those exciting plays to get the offense going.

Jarett Hunter, Sophomore, RB

Hunter carried the ball 12 times for 93 yards against the University of Richmond in Game 1, averaging 7.8 yards per carry as the leading rusher for the team. Getting him going on offense will be key in accelerating the running game and setting the tone early on.

Rodney Dennard, Senior, DB

DB Rodney Dennard combined with DBs Kenny Gallop and Aaron Walker (All-conference team 2020 honoree) for a total of 22 tackles in the Howard vs UMD matchup. Dennard was also named to the Preseason All-MEAC Team, as he combined for 101 tackles with DB Ray Williams (Preseason All-Conference team 2020 honoree) in 2019.

*Predicted Breakout Player: Darrian Brokenburr, Junior, DL

Coming off a strong 2019 season, where he tallied 31 tackles and led the Bison with 3.5 sacks, Brokenburr was named to the Phil Steele Preseason All-Conference team (Second team) in 2020.

What about Hampton?

Coming into this matchup, Hampton has defeated Howard in the annual matchup in their last four meetings dating back to 2015 with Hampton leading the overall series 53-41-1. The Pirates currently have a record of 1-1 in the Big South Conference after winning their season opener against Virginia Union (42-28) but losing in Week 2 (47-7) to Old Dominion.

The Pirates are incredibly dynamic on offense when sharp and have the potential to continue their dominance over the Bison by starting the offensive attack early and exploiting weaknesses in the Bison defense.

Who are the players to look out for from Hampton?

Jett Duffey, Graduate Transfer, QB          

Quarterback Jett Duffey, a transfer from Texas Tech, was 24 for 35 and threw for 242 yards, 2 TDs  and  2 INT in the win against Virginia Union in the season opener. Against Old Dominion, he was 7 of 16 for 83 yards with only one touchdown. Duffey’s star power was shown in the matchup against VUU where the Pirates’ combined 611 total yards on offense (242 in the air) and brutally defeated the Panthers 42-28. Expect the high-powered Hampton, led by Duffey, to provide a major challenge for the Howard defense.

Jadakis Bonds, Junior, WR

In the most recent Pirate loss against Old Dominion, WR Jadakis Bonds was held to 5 catches, for 86 yards. However, with 7 catches for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns in just 10 games, Bonds put on a performance during his freshman year in 2018. Now in his junior season, his standout role in the Hampton offense earned him a spot on the 2021 preseason All-Big South First Team.   Bonds and Duffey connecting early in the matchup will be key in dominating early on offense.

Elijah Burris, Freshman, RB

Burris was named the Big South Co-freshman of the Week, after attaining 194 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns on 15 carries in the win against VUU. He also recorded a 51-yard kickoff return and had a fourth quarter 30 -yard touchdown run to seal the Pirate victory. After that win, Burris was also named Stats Perform National FCS freshman of the week.

*Predicted Breakout Player: Caleb Brown, Senior, DB

Brown was named the Big South defensive player of the week after the Pirates win against Virginia Union. He recorded 3 tackles, 2 interceptions and became the first Pirate player to have a two-interception game since 2014. In his 2019 junior season, Brown also had 43 total tackles, one interception and five pass breakups.

How to Watch Hampton vs Howard:

Hampton vs Howard airs live at 12pm ET on NBCSN on Saturday, September 18th. All coverage also streams on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports appChris Lewis will handle play-by-play, and will be joined by analyst Jay Walker – a former Howard University quarterback – and reporter Zora Stephenson.

*Author’s Note: Alex D. Williams is two-time published author and a senior at Howard University, from New Orleans, Louisiana. She studies Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Sports Administration. You can follow her on social media at @Alexdwilliams2_. You can also follow her sports podcast: A Girl & Her Grandpa: A Sports Podcast through the generations found on Apple, Spotify, and several other platforms.

Big Ten Week 5: Previews and Predictions for Michigan, Minnesota, and More


While No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan remain the top teams in the Big Ten conference, Minnesota was the team that made the biggest impact in Week 4, putting on a dominant display on the road at Michigan State to win 34-7. The Golden Gophers entered the AP Top 25 for the first time this season on the heels of that win; they’ll host Purdue this weekend as No. 21, the only ranked team in the Big Ten West.

That game is among the best in the conference in Week 5, which will also see Michigan face a tough test on the road and a contest between Michigan State and Maryland, both of whom are coming off Week 4 losses.


Iowa hopes to upset No. 4 Michigan with daunting defense

The Big Ten game of the week is in Iowa City, as the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines travel to face the top defense in the country (by points allowed – 5.75/game) in a rematch of the 2021 Big Ten Championship game, when Iowa took a 42-3 defeat at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Michigan faced its first conference opponent of 2022 last weekend, when Maryland visited Ann Arbor and made the Big House nervous with a much closer game than expected (Michigan took the 34-27 win). The Terps hung with the Wolverines all four quarters as Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy had a sloppier game than he can afford against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

McCarthy, a sophomore, went 18/26 in a 220-yard, 2-touchdown effort, tallying two fumbles. “That’s two plays I really want back,” he said after the game on Saturday, adding: “I take full responsibility for the throws I missed.”

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh knows he’ll need more accuracy against Iowa, who’s coming off a 27-10 win at Rutgers that included two defensive touchdowns. “If you’re not as sound as you can possibly be, you’re in for a rough one,” Harbaugh said Monday.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz echoed that sentiment for his squad: “It’s going to take our best team effort to have a chance in this ball game,” he said on Tuesday. Ferentz said he’s not considering this a revenge spot for the last time they faced Michigan, “but [that game] is a reminder…If you aren’t on top of things and you give up a couple big plays, all of a sudden the hill gets pretty steep.”

Expect this to be a close game, especially if Iowa limits Michigan RB Blake Corum, who went for 2 TDs and 243 yards against Maryland last week. If Iowa’s offense was less inept, predicting the Hawkeyes to win this one outright wouldn’t be that farfetched. The story of the game will likely be in Michigan’s turnover numbers – if the Wolverines can take care of the ball, they should be positioned to pull this one out even in a tight contest.


No. 21 Minnesota (4-0) looks to keep momentum against unpredictable Purdue (2-2)

Entering Week 4, it seemed like Minnesota was in for a close game in East Lansing at Michigan State, but the Gophers shut down the Spartans almost immediately and didn’t let them up for air (Michigan State’s only score in the 34-7 loss came with 17 seconds left). Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan went 23/26 in a game where he needed to find new targets with top receiver Chris Autman-Bell out (Autman-Bell had season-ending surgery leg surgery earlier this month).. Morgan found help all over the field – four receivers had at least 3 touches and 40+ yards, while running back Mo Ibrahim added 103 and a touchdown on the ground. Ibrahim enters Week 5 second in FBS rushing yards with 567 on the season.

“They make you bleed,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said on Monday. “And if you don’t find a way to bandage it up or do something to strike back, it can be a long death.”

Minnesota should have an easy time against Purdue on Saturday. But the Boilermakers have a reputation as an upset team – remember when they put 49 points on third-ranked Ohio State in 2018? Or last year, when they upset No. 2 Iowa in October and No. 3 Michigan State in November?

“The key is: can we find a way to get a lead and take them out of what they really want to do?” Brohm said.

Purdue is coming off two close games: a 32-29 loss at Syracuse in Week 3 and a 28-26 win against Florida Atlantic in Week 4. The Boilermakers had a close match in Week 1 as well, losing 35-31 to the now-11th-ranked Nittany Lions of Penn State.

The health of QB Aidan O’Connell – who the team says will be a game-time decision – is likely to be a big factor for Purdue; O’Connell was injured during the game in Week 3 and missed Week 4. He played remarkably through three weeks with 1,000 yards and only one interception, bolstering Purdue to the second-best pass offense in the conference behind Ohio State. Austin Butler played in O’Connell’s place last week and is expected to start at Minnesota if O’Connell can’t.

The Gophers have all the momentum, but know they have to stay focused for a win this week, which is Homecoming at Minnesota. “I always get a little worried when I see strength and twitch together,” Gophers offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca said of the Purdue front. On the passing game, he said, “Their corners are big and physical… They don’t give you any free throws.”

All signs point to a win for Minnesota at home this week, if the team keeps playing efficiently and outruns the curse of the Purdue upset.


Other Games to Watch in Week 5: Ohio State and Penn State at home, Michigan State hoping to turn things around

No. 3 Ohio State and No. 11 Penn State both host conference opponents at home this week. Ohio State (4-0) had an impressive showing against Wisconsin last week, winning 52-21 – and the game wasn’t as close as that score makes it seem. C.J. Stroud added 281 yards and 5 TDs to his case for the Heisman Trophy in an offensive effort that head coach Ryan Day said was “what we’re looking for.”

Rutgers (3-1) struggled against Iowa last week and is unlikely to hold off Stroud and the Buckeyes offense. Ohio State, which has yet to go on the road this season, should take this one by four or more touchdowns.

Penn State (4-0) faces a Northwestern (1-3) side that lost by three thanks to a late field goal by Miami-Ohio last week. The Wildcats have lost three straight since their win over Nebraska in Week 1, and that streak is expected to extend to four losses when they travel to State College on Saturday. The only danger for the Nittany Lions is a loss of focus in the look-ahead as they prepare to go to Ann Arbor to face Michigan in Week 6.

Finally, the Michigan State Spartans (2-2) will try to stave off a 3-game losing streak when they go on the road to Maryland (3-1) this weekend. Michigan State has been trounced two weeks in a row, first at Washington, then at home against Minnesota. Both games were expected to be close before they started.

Spartans coach Mel Tucker started his presser on Monday with a laundry list of things he sees as necessary improvements for his team, from basics like tackling and scoring points to other issues like pre-snap alignments and zone coverage.

“Optimistic and determined is how I feel at the moment,” Tucker said heading into Week 5.

Maryland, meanwhile, was impressive last week in a close game at Michigan and should have some confidence coming off that performance, but they’re not taking the coming matchup for granted.

“When you look at their record it’s easy to say they’re struggling,” Terps coach Mike Locksley said of Michigan State, “But when you watch the tape… They’ve [lost to] two really formidable opponents.”

“We expect them to come in here to try to get back on track,” he added, “and we’ve got to do everything we can… to not let that happen.”

Is Michigan State down and out or ready to take out some frustration on the Terps this week? Maryland enters the weekend favored, suggesting it’s the former. But look for the halftime score to tell the story here: if the Spartans can keep it close in the first half, they’ve got a good chance to pull this one out. It’ll probably be a big loss if it gets away from them early.

Big Ten Football Week 4 Storylines: Ohio State, Michigan among teams facing first conference opponents


In two weeks, the Big Ten has gone from having five ranked teams to three: Wisconsin fell out of the rankings after Week 2 and this week, Michigan State was dropped after a poor showing at Washington (39-28 final).

The three teams that remain in the top 25, though – (3) Ohio State, (4) Michigan, and (14) Penn State – looked great in Week 3 matchups that included Michigan’s 59-0 shutout against UConn and an impressive 41-12 win for Penn State on the road at Auburn.

Fortunately for Michigan State, their loss to a possibly-better-than-we-thought Washington team wasn’t the worst showing in the conference last Saturday; that accolade goes to Nebraska, whose loss to No. 6 Oklahoma wasn’t as close as the 49-14 score makes it sound.

Week 4 features eight Big Ten teams in their first conference matchups of the season, including Michigan and Ohio State, both playing at home.


Maryland’s trip to the Big House should be telling for No. 4 Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines (3-0) have won their first three games by a combined score of 166-17, and yet, it’s not clear how good the team is. Its all-home schedule against Colorado State, Hawaii, and UConn hasn’t put Michigan to the test so far – they’re blowing out teams that they should be blowing out, which doesn’t tell us much.

That isn’t to say Michigan is likely to lose to Maryland (3-0) on Saturday; Michigan is better on paper across the board and it’s unlikely they give this game away to the Terps, who are also undefeated (albeit less convincingly) through three non-conference games. But a team worthy of the No. 4 ranking will make a win look easy and shut down the Maryland offense (Michigan is allowing a third-best 194 yards per game), and a team not worthy of that ranking… won’t.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t give away much when asked about how Michigan has prepared for their first conference test, remarking only on the great work ethic and leadership he’s seen from his players. But he did note that they have their guard up after winning the conference last season: “There’s a big target [on our backs]. Whenever you’re a defending champion, it’s gonna be there.”

Maryland coach Mike Locksley put the Terrapins’ mental approach simply on Tuesday when he said, “We have nothing to lose.” He noted that Michigan has been more disciplined than his team through three games, citing penalty numbers: Michigan is third-best in the FBS in penalty yards given away this season (65); Maryland is third-worst (271). “We always talk about trying to close the gap on teams like that,” Locksley told reporters on Tuesday. “This affords us an opportunity to see how and where we fit.”

“[We’ll] try to play to the best of our ability and keep the game really tight and get it to the fourth quarter. And you never know what can happen.”


No. 3 Ohio State puts offense to first big test against Wisconsin

Third-ranked Ohio State (3-0) faces its first conference test in hosting Wisconsin (2-1), which was ranked 19th before losing in a Week 2 upset to Washington State. Ohio State opened with a big win at home against Notre Dame, a win that lost some of its luster after Notre Dame lost to Marshall in Week 2.

That said, the Buckeyes are the best offensive team in the nation through three weeks with an average 565.3 yards per game, and Wisconsin is expected to be the best defense the team has faced so far. After OSU put 77 points on Toledo in Week 3, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said, “As good as the offense might look, the offense is not good until the end of the year and you can see how tough and how consistent it is.”

“Wisconsin epitomizes Big Ten football,” OSU coach Ryan Day said on Thursday, noting the Badgers’ physical style of play and calling Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz and RB Braelon Allen “the best we’ve seen” at both positions.

The Badgers rebounded in Week 3 with a 66-7 win over New Mexico State, but that hasn’t changed their underdog status going into Saturday at The Shoe, where Wisconsin hasn’t won since 2004.

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst complimented the formidable Buckeyes offense, calling C.J. Stroud “a heck of a quarterback” and remarking on the challenge his defense will face in OSU: “They do a great job of threatening and using the whole field.”

Ohio State will don blackout uniforms for the primetime matchup, which is the team’s fourth straight home game.


Michigan State looks for rebound against Minnesota team with momentum

Of all the Big Ten contests in Week 4, this one figures to be the most intriguing. Michigan State (2-1) is unranked for the first time this season after the Spartans struggled to compete at Washington last week, which could make the home game against Minnesota (3-0) a revenge game or a letdown spot.

Head coach Mel Tucker called the Washington result “very disappointing” after the Spartans’ secondary got chewed up by the Huskies, led by QB Michael Penix Jr. Tucker listed the major issues as poor communication and missed assignments rather than schematic problems, and said he took the failures personally: “I’m a horse—t football coach right now.”

“We’re going to be defined by how we respond,” Tucker said. “We have to raise our level of intensity in what we’re doing…You have to learn from adversity.”

Minnesota has earned three solid wins in non-conference play so far, showing balance with great numbers on both sides of the ball: the Golden Gophers are second in the FBS in offensive yards per game (554.7) and second in yards allowed per game (170.3).

“We know it’s going to be a hostile environment… They’re a dangerous football team,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said this week, specifically noting the strength of the Michigan State defensive front, which gave up only 30 rush yards to Washington last Saturday.

Minnesota will need some productivity on the ground, especially after wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 3 against Colorado, for which he underwent surgery on Wednesday. Autman-Bell was leading the Gophers with 11 receptions and 214 receiving yards.

The Gophers are averaging a second-in-FBS 312.7 rush yards per game so far, but the Spartans present the first big defensive challenge of their season.

As Michigan State adjusts its defensive approach and Minnesota tweaks its offense, this game is expected to be a close one: Minnesota is a slight road favorite entering the weekend.


Iowa heads to Rutgers for Defensive Clash

The Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-0) face off Saturday night with Rutgers at home, looking to start the season 4-0 for the first time in a decade (2012).

It won’t be an easy path for the Scarlet Knights, whose quarterback situation leaves plenty to be desired – Evan Simon and Gavin Wimsatt combined for 59 pass yards against Temple in Week 3 – and who likely won’t catch a break against an Iowa defense that’s allowed 13 points across three games this season.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said there are “several” offensive things he wants to fix, and also said injured QB Noah Vedral’s status will be a game-time decision on Saturday. The recent passing numbers for the team make a Vedral return all the more appealing to the Rutgers faithful.

Opposite Iowa’s renowned defense, Rutgers boasts strong defensive stats as well – the team is second in FBS in rush yards allowed (less than 33 per game) and Iowa has scored three of its lowly four touchdowns this season on the ground.

Iowa is coming off an easy but long 27-0 win over Nevada in Week 3: with nearly four hours of weather delays, the game lasted almost seven hours.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz acknowledged the parallels between his team and Schiano’s, noting the defense but also the strong punters both teams will bring to the game.

“They don’t do dumb things,” Ferentz said of the Knights. “They make you earn anything you get.”