THE RATING GAME

1. GRAMBLING

Tigers got decent QB play, survived opener against Alcorn.

2. JACKSON STATE

Concerns about offensive line emerged, but JSU still cruised.

3. ALCORN STATE

Braves started a host of freshmen, nearly toppled Grambling.

4. ALABAMA A&M

Bulldogs looking for bounce back after Hampton loss.

5. TEXAS SOUTHERN

Reigning champs kick off their season against Prairie View.

6. ALABAMA STATE

Hornets forced seven turnovers in easy win over Valley.

7. PRAIRIE VIEW

Panthers got steamrolled by Bethune-Cookman on ESPN.

8. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF

UAPB blew too many chances in opener, but will improve.

9. SOUTHERN

Jaguars have to improve in home opener against A&M.

10. MISS. VALLEY STATE

Seven turnovers doomed Devils in loss to Alabama State.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

SATURDAY

Alabama State ?at Eastern Michigan, 1 p.m.

Murray State at Mississippi Valley State, 4 p.m.

Alcorn State at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6 p.m.

Alabama A&M at Southern, 6 p.m. ??????????????

Tennessee State vs. Jackson State, at Memphis, Tenn., 6 p.m.

Grambling at Louisiana-Monroe, 6 p.m.

Prairie View vs. Texas Southern, at Houston, 7 p.m.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Prairie View

at Texas Southern

7 p.m. Saturday

Delmar Stadium, Houston

This is not the Labor Day Classic we’ve come to know and love. First of all, it’s not on Labor Day weekend. It’s a week later because Prairie View agreed to play in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge last week. It pits the past two conference champions: the Panthers (2009) and Tigers (2010), who are now contenders after years of futility. And it’s not at the Astrodome or Reliant Stadium; it’s at Delmar - the oldest public high-school stadium in Houston. TSU interim coach Kevin Ramsey said a scheduling conflict kept the teams from playing at Reliant.

AROUND THE SWAC

•?Yes, Alcorn State lost to Grambling 21-14 in Melvin Spears’ debut, but The Man in Shades wasn’t entirely deflated. Spears said 15 of his 22 starters were freshmen, and “when you put freshmen in, you never know exactly what they’re going to do,” he said. “But based on our evaluation, I thought our coaches did a great job in bringing in some talented players.”

•?Not bad a debut for both men named Doug Williams. The coach, in his grand return, helped guide the Tigers to a 21-14 win over Alcorn. His freshman son, known as D.J. Williams, completed 16 of 24 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions - despite facing pressure from a blitz-heavy defense, dialed up by Alcorn coordinator Michael Roach. “I’ve been sitting here watching film,” Doug Williams said. “I don’t know if I’ll give him a grade ?A,’ but I’ll certainly give him a passing grade.”

•?This week, Jackson State faces Tennessee State - the team that trampled Southern 33-7 in the season opener. Did that come as a surprise to JSU coach Rick Comegy? “I guess, in a way,” he said. “Football’s a funny sport. You have a good day, sometimes you have a bad day. ... I just don’t know much about Southern at this point. It shows how good Tennessee State is. We’ve got our hands full with (Tennessee State).” ... Quarterback Casey Therriault was 15-of-32 for 218 yards in his season debut.

•?Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow had an interesting take on this week’s trip to Eastern Michigan. “It’s an FBS school, and our guys all say they’re supposed to be (playing for) FBS schools anyway, so now they’ll get an opportunity,” he said. “Now we’ll get a chance to see how you perform at these places.”