Southern Hitting Stride
Southern comes into Saturday’s Championship Game with an 8-4 overall record and a 6-1 record in conference. Southern has become the “Cardiac Cats” this season with five wins by six points or less including all three conference games in the month of November. Southern has lived on the edge all season and now return to the SWAC Championship game seeking to avenge a heartbreaking loss to Alcorn State a year ago.
A year ago Southern fought back from a 13 point deficit in the 3rd quarter to take a 28-27 lead over Alcorn State which they held on to until 11:31 remaining in the game. The play that has haunted Jaguar Nation over the last year was a fourth down play from the Alcorn 32-yard line with 9:05 remaining in the ball game where the Jaguars failed to convert which ended sealing the game for Alcorn State.
The Jaguar Faithful have had a full year to think about that play and what could have been.
Coach Odums has done a great job this season of keeping the Jaguars focused week to week and focused during tight ball games. This year started off rough for the Jaguar offense as they played musical chairs at the quarterback position until late in the Alcorn State game. Now that Ladarius Skelton has re-established himself as the man under center and the Southern offense has been rolling since.
The Southern offense ranks 3 rd in the conference as far as scoring offense, 7th in total offense, and 1 st in rushing offense. Skelton has progressed as a passer over the last half of the season with seven touchdown passes and only one interception during the month of November. Defensively, the Jaguars have been stout against the run all season the SWAC’s second best run defense behind the Braves.
Passing defense has been a sore spot for the Jaguars as they rank ninth against the pass in the SWAC but the Jaguar secondary has improved since being scorched by Alabama A&M. Sophomore Jordan Lewis could be an X-Factor against Alcorn as Saturday will be his first game healthy against Alcorn State since his first game against the Braves in September of 2018. The Jaguars must put pressure on Felix Harper to make him uncomfortable in the pocket which is something they failed to do during their first meeting.
Alcorn State and Southern have one of the most underrated rivalries in all of HBCU football and Saturday’s Championship edition of this series promises to provide an unbelievable atmosphere just like the 2018 game did. Alcorn State has become a dynasty, winning six-straight Eastern Division Titles and going for their 4 th Conference Title since 2014. Head Coach Fred McNair has become arguably the best coach in the SWAC has he looks to bring another SWAC Championship to his alma mater.
Head Coach Dawson Odums at Southern through NCAA sanctions, reduced scholarships, and post-season bans have kept Southern on the right track. In year 7 at the helm this is Coach Odums and his Jaguars fourth trip to the SWAC Championship game. Coach Odums looks to bring the conference title back to Jaguar Nation who have been hungry for a conference title since 2013.
A conference Championship and a trip to Atlanta for the Celebration Bowl hangs in the balance on Saturday in the SWAC Game of The Year.