It’s back to the SWAC for Southern this week — and for the rest of the season.
The Jaguars returned to the practice field Sunday after taking two days off during their open date. They are 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
This weekend, they were able to sit back and watch while each of the nine other SWAC teams played, including three squads that had nonconference games.
The SWAC race is shaping up the way most envisioned.
Defending champion Alcorn State, which was picked to repeat, is 3-0 and has outscored its SWAC opponents 147-42.
The only other teams yet to lose a conference game are Grambling and Southern. The Jaguars won the West Division last year when they beat the Tigers on the last play of the regular season in the Bayou Classic. Another tight race was anticipated; Grambling was picked first, just three voting points ahead of Southern.
The Tigers are 3-0 after a 59-27 victory at Jackson State on Saturday. The West again could come down to the Bayou Classic on Nov. 28, but the Jaguars are focused on their game at Alabama State (2-2) on Saturday, the first of seven straight against conference opponents.
The Hornets have won their past two games. After opening the SWAC season with home losses to Alcorn State and Grambling, ASU went on the road and beat Mississippi Valley and Texas Southern, the latter win coming Thursday.
The Jaguars-Hornets game is the marquee matchup during a week when four SWAC teams have open dates. Alabama A&M visits Grambling, and Valley visits Prairie View.
In Southern’s previous game, it trailed then-No. 7 Georgia just 20-6 at halftime before losing 48-6 on Sept. 26.
“It really showed us that we’ve got a lot more that we can prove,” cornerback/wide receiver Justin Morgan said. “After playing Georgia and coming back into our own league, all we can do is be better from that.”
The Jaguars were dominant in their two SWAC victories, beating Valley 50-13 and Jackson State 50-31; they scored 50 points in consecutive games for the first time since 2003.
“I think we’re right where we need to be,” coach Dawson Odums said. “Now we need to get better coming out.”
Southern will be less sore and better rested coming off the open date, and it could get some reinforcement.
Cornerback Jamar Mitchell has yet to play because of a hamstring injury, and Ki-Jana Curtis, who started in Mitchell’s place in the season opener at Louisiana Tech, hasn’t played since injuring a shoulder in that game. Reserve linebacker Calvin Lunkin (knee) has missed the past two games.
“We’ll get the majority of our football players back to where they’re able to go,” Odums said. “That should give us an opportunity to be able to go down the stretch feeling pretty good about the football team that we have.”