Undefeated East Division champion Jackson State (10-0, 7-0 E) could know by Saturday the West Division champion and its opponent in the Dec. 3 SWAC Championship Game in Jackson, Ms.
Or, it could take longer.
SWAC West: Prairie View in the driver’s seat
Prairie View A&M (6-4) currently leads the West race with a 5-2 record headed into the final week of its regular season. Should first-year head coach Bubba McDowell and the Panthers win their regular season finale Saturday (1 p.m.) at Mississippi Valley State (1-9, 1-6 E), the race is over. Prairie View will win the SWAC West Division title.
That would set up a repeat match up of Jackson State and Prairie View A&M in the title game.
SWAC West: Should Prairie View falter
Should Prairie View falter against the 1-9 Delta Devils however, several scenarios come into play. Southern (6-4), Alcorn State (5-5) and Texas Southern (5-5) are just a game behind Prairie View with 4-3 league records. If Prairie View loses to MVSU and any or all of those three win their finales, a number of tie-breaking procedures are triggered.
As strange or ironic as it may seem, a Prairie View loss means either of the other three could come away with the championship game berth with a win in their finale.
Alcorn State closes out its regular season hosting Jackson State (10-0, 7-0 E) Saturday in Lorman, Ms. (2 p.m.). Texas Southern’s finale is on the road against Alabama A&M (3-7, 3-4 E) Saturday (1 p.m.) in Huntsville, Al.
Southern is off this week before facing rival Grambling State next Saturday (Nov. 26) in their traditional season-ending Bayou Classic at the Caesar’s Dome in New Orleans (1 p.m.).
Again, tie-breaking procedures are irrelevant if Prairie View beats Miss. Valley State Saturday.
But if the Panthers lose, the title game berth may not be decided until next Saturday’s (Nov. 26) game between Southern and Grambling State.
SWAC West: Tie-breaking procedures, if needed
The procedures outline a list of dizzying measures that begin with head-to-head competition between the tied teams, moves to records between the tied teams within the division and culminates, after a few other complicated measures, with something as simple as a coin flip.
There are different provisions depending on if two, three or more teams are tied. In each case, the first tie-breaking procedure is head-to-head competition between the tied teams.
Ready to get dizzy?
SWAC West: Let’s get dizzy!
Here is the breakdown of head-to-head games involving the four schools.
Prairie View is 1-2 vs. the other three with a win over Texas Southern (40-23 on Sept. 3) and losses to both Southern (45-13 on Oct. 8) and Alcorn State (23-16 in OT on Nov. 4).
Alcorn State is 1-2 with a win over Prairie View but losses to Southern (21-17 on Oct. 15) and Texas Southern (34-27 on Oct. 22).
Southern is 2-1 with wins over Prairie View and Alcorn State but a loss to Texas Southern (24-0 on Sept. 17).
Texas Southern (2-1) lost to Prairie View but has wins over Southern and Alcorn State.
Remember, there is no tie or tie-breaking procedure if Prairie View wins on Saturday. But in the unpredictable SWAC, anything can happen.
SWAC West: The breakdown
Based on our reading of the tie-breaking procedures, here’s our stab at how things could unfold.
Prairie View could also earn the berth: In a two-way tie with Texas Southern based on the Panthers’ 40-23 win over TSU.
Alcorn State earns the berth: In a two-way tie with Prairie View based on the Braves’ 23-16 win vs. the Panthers.
Southern earns the berth: In a two-way tie with Prairie View based on its 45-13 win over the Panthers.
Southern also earns the berth: In a three-way tie with Prairie View and Alcorn State based on wins over both PV and Alcorn State.
Texas Southern earns the berth: In a three-way tie with Prairie View and Southern. The three would be tied at 1-1 in head-to-head competition between. In West Division games only – the next tie-breaker – Prairie View would be 3-2, Texas Southern and Southern would be 4-1. TSU would gain the berth by virtue of its head-to-head win over Southern.
Texas Southern also earns the berth: In a four-way tie, Texas Southern would earn the championship game berth based on the best record between the tied teams. TSU and Southern would have 2-1 records while Alcorn State and Prairie View would be at 1-2. TSU would earn the berth based on its head-to-head 21-17 win over Southern.
That’s our stab!