THE RATING GAME

1. ALABAMA STATE

Great defense, win over Grambling put Hornets at top of list.

2. JACKSON STATE

Tigers have won despite 10 turnovers in past two games.

3. GRAMBLING

Team managed only 177 yards in Alabama State loss.

4. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF

Lions have rallied to win both of their past two games.

5. ALCORN STATE

Braves are playing nine first-time starters on defense.

6. PRAIRIE VIEW

In three weeks, Panthers have allowed 44.3 points per game.

7. TEXAS SOUTHERN

Reigning champs can move up a few spots by tripping Alcorn.

8. SOUTHERN

Jaguars are better, but haven’t played a complete game yet.

9. ALABAMA A&M

Life gets no easier for Bulldogs, who visit Grambling this week.

10. MISS. VALLEY STATE

Devils hung tough with Alcorn for a while, but they’re still 0-3.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

SATURDAY

Alcorn State

at Texas Southern, 1 p.m.

Southern vs. Florida A&M,

at Atlanta, 2:30 p.m.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs.

Clark Atlanta, at St. Louis, 3 p.m.

Alabama State

at Jackson State, 4 p.m.

Alabama A&M

at Grambling, 5 p.m.

Mississippi Valley State

at Prairie View, 6 p.m.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Southern vs. Florida A&M

2:30 p.m. Saturday (Versus)

Georgia Dome, Atlanta

This is, of course, a matchup of proud-but-struggling programs who are looking to get back in gear. The Rattlers are coming off back-to-back losses against Hampton and South Florida, while Jackson State dropped Southern 28-24 at A.W. Mumford Stadium. ... A win would give FAMU its sixth win against Southern in their past seven meetings. ... These teams played every year from 1946-2001, but have met only twice since then. FAMU won the most recent meeting in 2008, a 52-49 thriller in Baton Rouge. Southern edged the Rattlers 33-27 in the 2007 MEAC/SWAC Challenge.

AROUND THE SWAC

• Texas Southern has played only one conference game so far, losing a 37-34 thriller to Prairie View. But it looks like the reigning champions will have a potent one-two punch with running backs Marcus Wright and Martin Gilbert. Wright has 215 yards and a touchdown, while Gilbert has 156 yards and four TDs. Together, they have averaged 5.3 yards per carry.

• It’s early, but Arkansas-Pine Bluff is emerging as a contender in the Western Division. The Lions notched a big road win at Prairie View last week, and they did it Monte Coleman’s way: by running the football. Stephen Jones and Dennis Jenkins combined for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Still, UAPB had to rally for each of its past two wins, and Coleman said he’d like to see the team start playing with a lead.

• The education of Brandon Bridge continues at Alcorn State. First-year coach Melvin Spears benched the talented sophomore for the first half of their 39-14 win over Mississippi Valley State - but Bridge came in for the second half to throw for 148 yards and two touchdowns. “I thought the opportunity to sit for a half really helped him. ... We’ve got to get him to be a little more patient and not so run-happy. As a result, he had a good ballgame.”

• Jackson State coach Rick Comegy said Monday that the atmosphere for last week’s game at A.W. Mumford Stadium was nearly unmatched. “That was probably one of the most exciting games I’ve been involved with in a long time. ... Southern came ready to play,” he said. “Their team was well-prepared. They were sky-high, and it was a packed house for them, and it was just a game of give-and-take.” The Tigers rallied for a 28-24 win.