PINE BLUFF, Ark. — This isn’t going to be a “November to remember” for Southern, at least not in the sense that coach Dawson Odums uses that phrase.
When the Jaguars embarked on the heart of their Southwestern Athletic Conference schedule in October, Odums said October was all about teams putting themselves in position to have a November to remember.
The goal was to enter the final month of the season poised to make a run at the conference championship.
But Southern didn’t do what it needed to do in October, losing to Prairie View and Alcorn State to fall out of the thick of the West Division race.
Still, the Jaguars can do some things in November that will be worth remembering, and they got off to a good start with a 57-24 thrashing of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday in Golden Lion Stadium.
No one is going to look back on this season and single out the victory against a hapless team with just 37 scholarship players. But the manner in which Southern went about its business — scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions and six of its first seven — suggests this team wants to make the most of the time it has left.
Though Grambling almost certainly will clinch the West when it plays the Lions on Saturday, the Jaguars can still do some stuff worth remembering — or at least avoid stuff that it wouldn’t want to be remembered for.
Next up is the home finale against Alabama A&M on Saturday, an opportunity to send the senior class out on a winning note in its last appearance in A.W. Mumford Stadium. A victory against the Bulldogs also would enable Southern to avoid a losing record at home this season.
The Jaguars’ losses to Prairie View and Alcorn State not only crippled their chances of winning a third consecutive West title, they left a bad taste in the mouth of the home crowds, which haven’t seen Southern win at Mumford since Sept. 19.
Then, of course, is the ultimate November game: the annual regular-season finale against Grambling in the Bayou Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Though this year’s matchup presumably won’t have the winner-take-all aspect of last year’s, in which the Jaguars prevailed on the final play to clinch a spot in the SWAC title game, it’s still the Bayou Classic.
If you can’t win the West in the Bayou Classic, the next-best thing is to be able to deny your rival an undefeated conference regular season and send it to the title game off a loss.
Southern has grown accustomed to making memories in November, having clinched West Division titles in the past two Novembers, the first of which led to a SWAC championship in 2013.
The Jaguars have won their past 10 games in November, and extending that streak to 12 would be worth remembering.
Odums often talks about building a program, doing things that build a foundation for long-term success even when short-term goals are unattainable.
Seniors can show underclassmen the value of finishing strong regardless of records and standings.
The team can demonstrate to the fans who turn out for Senior Day that the future is bright.
And a victory on Thanksgiving weekend in New Orleans always makes the offseason more pleasant than a loss does.
No, this won’t be the “November to remember” that Odums envisioned, because Southern didn’t take care of business in October.
But this team can still do some memorable things this month.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.