We’re a little over a third of the way into the FCS season after four games, so we’re checking in to see how the teams are stacking up thus far. Grades are compiled on the basis of records, strength of schedule and preseason expectations.
Alabama State: A
Save for a season-opening Money Game against Sam Houston, Alabama State couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2013. ASU seized an opportunity against nationally-ranked Tennessee State and held on for the upset. It hasn’t been challenged since, outscoring Mississippi Valley State and Pine Bluff 89-29
Alabama A&M: C
If you would have said Alabama A&M would be 1-3 after a month, no one would have really been surprised. When a win over a D2 school is your only win a month into the season, it’s going to be a long year.
Alcorn State: A
Like Alabama State, Alcorn’s lone loss came to an FBS squad, and ASU put up a much better fight. Wins against VUL and Louisana were to be expected, but Saturday’s blowout of Mississippi Valley showed that Alcorn can dominate when the opportunity arises. The next two matchups against Southern and Alabama State will tell just how far this team can go.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: D
The first two games went as expected, but last week’s blowout loss to Alabama State showed just how far this team has to go to be competitive.
Grambling State: B
Starting the regular season 1-3 isn’t usually cause for optimism, but after what the folks in northeast Louisiana have suffered through the past couple of years, it definitely is. GSU opened the season with a near-miss against Lamar and a predictable blowout to the University of Houston. The G-Men turned heads in Week Three, when it gave nationally-ranked Bethune-Cookman a fight on the road. GSU finally got its first win and redemption as it traveled to Jackson State and returned home with a 40-35 win.
Jackson State: C
Two weeks ago, JSU looked like a contender for the SWAC Championship. They still may get there, but it doesn’t look promising at the moment. No one was surprised that they lost to Tennessee State, but most expected JSU would come up with a better game. A week later, JSU dropped its highly anticipated game against Grambling State, and suddenly a third-straight SWAC East title looks less likely.
Mississippi Valley State: D
The one school Valley did beat, College of Faith, might not even be a real college. Against NCAA recognized teams, Valley has allowed an average of more than 50 points per game.
Prairie View A&M: D-
Easily the most disappointing team in the SWAC so far. Their resume includes a loss to rival Texas Southern, a blowout loss to McNeese State and a loss to a Southern team that has had more than a third of its starters pulled out of uniform due to eligibility issues.
Despite having multiple starters pulled due to eligibility issues, Southern sits at 2-2 this season. One of those wins came against an NAIA squad, the other against a slumping Prairie View squad. This week will pose a true test as Southern hosts a surging Alcorn State team on Saturday.
Texas Southern: A
One month into the season, Texas Southern has already matched its win total from the previous two seasons. Two of those wins came against non-FCS opponents, and two of them came against SWAC schools that aren’t that good so far. Expect to find out what TSU is made of this weekend when it travels to Montgomery to take on Alabama State
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The second annual Deacon Jones Trophy will be awarded in Feb. 2018.