1. NC A&T University Aggies (MEAC)
We can talk all day about discrepancies: division sizes, strength of schedule, wins and losses. But the fact remains that the A&T Aggies were the only Triad football team to crack a nationwide poll. A&T made No. 18 on the pre-season College Football Yearbook Top 30 of all NCAA college football programs in the country. They’re the only MEAC team on the list, after winning a bowl game and the national HBCU title last year. Right now they’re at the top of the heap.
2. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (ACC)
Wake Forest isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but this is a big-time Division I program with resources many other (better) teams can’t touch. And they won a bowl game last year — the Birmingham Bowl — to extend a three-year bowl-winning streak.
3. Winston-Salem State Rams (CIAA)
The Rams have fielded some excellent teams in years past, but this is probably not going to be their year. The CIAA predicts they’ll finish 6th overall this season, capturing Second Place in the Southern Division but still well out of reach of bowl season.
4. (Tie) Guilford College Fighting Quakers (ODAC) and Greensboro College Pride (USAS)
It’s theoretically possible for the Triad’s smallest programs to ascend to the top of this list. Both have fielded some exceptional players over the years — just last year De’Eric Bell capped his career with the Fighting Quakers with 2,879 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns — a school record. But they finished in last place in the ODAC, with an overall record of 3-6. The Pride likewise finished in the basement of the USAS at 1-9, going an astounding 0-7 in conference play. The Pride’s best play all year was in September, when two of the team’s players tackled an armed federal fugitive while watching a high school game in Sylva.