How many times have you heard someone say, “Man what if HBCU football had a playoff?” We all think about would that could potentially look like. Well look no further, the month of November in the SWAC and MEAC is basically a month long playoff for teams with conference title and Celebration Bowl aspirations. In the SWAC you have 6 teams in the conference still have aspirations of reaching the Conference Title game in December. Southern and Alcorn currently lead their prospective divisions while Grambling is right on the heels of Southern in the West, while over the Eastern division Jackson State is right behind Alcorn while Alabama State and Alabama A&M both are still clinging to title hopes. Southern currently has a 4-1 conference record and will step out of conference this weekend to host Virginia-Lynchburg in what should be a tune-up game prior to taking on Jackson State next weekend and Grambling State in The Bayou Classic.
Grambling State currently holds a 2-2 conference record and has been one of the hottest teams in the conference with 4 consecutive wins. With this current win streak Grambling has played themselves back into the SWAC Championship game picture. This weekend the Tigers will host Alcorn State who is the only undefeated team in the conference with a 4-0 record. The Braves defeated the Tigers in Lorman a season ago in a tightly contested game that wasn’t decided until 12 seconds remaining in the game when Noah Johnson connected with Chris Blair on a 1-yard touchdown pass. Alcorn escaped with a 33-26 win to break a 4 game losing streak to Grambling. This year the Tigers and Braves will meet in a game that is crucial in the conference standings. Alcorn has room for error while Grambling has none. A loss by Grambling could potentially knock them out of title contention if Southern defeats Jackson State next weekend. Outside of having momentum, Grambling also has history on their side. Alcorn State has not beaten Grambling in Robinson Stadium since 2006 and has lost each of their last four trips to “The Hole”. Grambling holds a 16-6 edge over Alcorn since 1982. All eyes in the conference will be on this ball game as so much hangs in the balance.
Over in Huntsville the Bulldogs of Alabama A&M will have to pick themselves up and dust themselves off quickly as the Tigers of Jackson State will come calling this weekend. Alabama A&M’s title hopes to a blow last week after a close loss to Southern but the Bulldogs still have slight hopes at a conference title game but a loss on Saturday would be detrimental to the Bulldogs. The Tigers of Jackson State come into Saturday’s on a 3-game win streak and now the Tigers have new life. The Tigers have a 3-1 record in conference and control their own destiny as far as a berth in the conference title game. For Alabama A&M I win here is a must! A loss on Saturday and a win by Alcorn would eliminate the Bulldogs from title game contention. The Tigers and Bulldogs have played tightly contested games the last few years including a come from behind win by Alabama A&M a year ago in Jackson.
Outside of the two big games SWAC match ups this week these are the scenarios for the SWAC Championship game. Let’s take a look at the Eastern division first where 4 of the 5 teams still have title game hopes. Mississippi Valley State is currently eliminated from title contention.
1st place Alcorn State currently leads the division with a 4-0 and the Braves face off again Grambling State this weekend, Alabama A&M on November 16th, and visit Jackson State on November 23rd.
2nd place is Jackson State with a 3-1 record in conference and currently controls their own destiny. The Tigers visit Alabama A&M this weekend, Southern on November 16th, and host Alcorn State on November 23rd.
3rd place is Alabama State with a 3-2 record in conference. ASU will visit Texas Southern on Saturday and will host Prairie View on Thanksgiving Day. The Hornets would need to win out and Alabama A&M to lose another game, and would need Alcorn State to lose their next 3 games. The Hornets would be eliminated from conference title contention if Alcorn State defeats Grambling State or if the Hornets lose to Texas Southern on Saturday.
4th place is Alabama A&M with a 2-2 record in conference. The Bulldogs will host Jackson State this weekend, visit Alcorn State on November 16th, and will host Mississippi Valley State on November 23rd. The Bulldogs would need to win out, and would need Alcorn State to drop an additional conference game in order to with the Eastern Division title. Alabama A&M could possibly be eliminated from contention this weekend with a loss to Jackson State and a win by Alcorn State over Grambling State.
Over in the Western Division this are less complicated due to Prairie View, UAPB, and Texas Southern already being eliminated from contention. So the West will come down to Southern or Grambling just as it has 16 out of the last 20 years.
Southern currently sits in 1st place with a 4-1 record in conference. Southern visit Jackson State on November 16th and will face off against Grambling State on November 30th. Southern is currently in the driver’s seat but could clinch the Western Division title with an Alcorn State win over Grambling and a win over Jackson State next weekend.
2nd place is Grambling State with a 2-2 record in conference. Grambling will host Alcorn State this weekend, visit Mississippi Valley State, and will face Southern on November30th. The Tigers currently control their own destiny but could be eliminated from title contention with a loss to Alcorn State or Mississippi Valley State and a Southern win over Jackson State.