Big Blue looks to take care of business this weekend in the Hole

The Big Blue (1-2, 0-0 OVC) will host the Arkansas Pine-Bluff Golden Lions at Hale Stadium this upcoming Saturday afternoon. Game time is 2 pm. It marks the fifth all-time game between the two programs and the first since 2016. That meeting was in the John Merritt Classic and saw the Big Blue roll to a 44-0 victory. Tennessee State leads the series 4-0.

After a loss to TCU in the opening week, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-1, 1-0 SWAC) has responded with a pair of wins, scoring 105 points over its last two games.

This past week it was a 53-15 win over Langston. It marked the first time the program had won back-to-back games since 2014. UAPB played a pair of quarterbacks with Skyler Perry Shannon Patrick. So far this season, that duo has completed 64% of their passes for 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Arkansas-Pine Bluff has also had four rushing touchdowns, with Taeyler Porter scoring two. Isaac Peppers had seven leading the team in tackles with 17 stops through three games.

Despite tallying up over 500 yards of total offense, the Big Blue could not overcome a 21-point deficit to Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, Tenn. last weekend. The Tigers fell behind 28-7 early in the second quarter. They were behind 42-23 late in the third, before making it interesting in the fourth, scoring three times, falling just short. The final score was 49-44. Senior Chris Rowland was named OVC Specialist of the Week after returning a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to start the game. He finished with 267 all-purpose yards—139 of those came on seven catches. Rowland ranks first nationally in all-purpose yards, seventh in total TDs, and 21st in combined kick return yards. Rowland is also, one of 11 FCS players to return a kickoff for a touchdown so far this season.

Steven Newbold was named Offensive MVP of the game after catching 10 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Newbold ranks 12th nationally in total receiving yards, 14th in receiving yards/game, and 50th in all-purpose yards. Newbold also moved into 10th place on the TSU career receptions list.

Tennessee State University is eighth nationally in kickoff return yardage defense, 10th in total offense, and 11th in passing offense. This should be a whale of a game.