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Showdown In New Orleans: The Bayou Classic Carries Heavy Weight This Year

After a long hiatus, The Bayou Classic is back. Sure, the Grambling-Southern matchup has gone on continuously since 1974, but for the first time in nearly a decade, there is more on the line than just bragging rights in the state of Louisianna. The winner of Saturday’s matchup in the the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will get to play in the SWAC Championship next week.

At the beginning of the season, we weren’t so sure stakes would be this high.

Southern (8-3) came into the season having to replace the record-setting duo of Dray Joseph and Lee Doss, who led the team to the SWAC Championship last season. It also had to battle eligibility issues at the start of the season which shelved more than half a dozen starters at one point in the season.

Grambling’s road to New Orleans was even more improbable. The 2013 Grambling squad was defined by turmoil, starting with the firing of head coach Doug Williams and highlighted by a strike that made national headlines. Coming in with a rookie head coach in Broderick Fobbs, not much was expected of the Grambling State, but once SWAC play started, the Tigers started looking like the G-Men of old.

Both quarterbacks–Grambling State’s Jonathan Williams and Southern’s Austin Howard–will look to add their own names to this game’s legacy with a win today. The biggest matchup of the day, however, may be the Grambling defense against Southern running back Leonard Tillery.

Prediction: Southern enters the game as the hottest team in the SWAC, having won seven games in a row. Grambling saw its seven-game winning streak snapped two weeks ago as it was upset by Alabama State. We like a hungry Grambling, eager to return to the SWAC Championship Game.

Check out Football Gameplan’s breakdown of the game here:

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