THE RATING GAME
1. JACKSON STATE
Now they’re No. 1. Does anyone believe they’ll stay at No. 1?
2. ALABAMA A&M
Bulldogs have won six straight. These guys really lost to SU?
3. ALABAMA STATE
Hornets had an East title and a SWAC title in hand. Whoops.
4. PRAIRIE VIEW
Panthers No. 4 despite a 44-14 loss. Is the SWAC down? Nah.
5. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF
Lions had chance to take West lead. Promptly gagged. Yikes.
Tigers have won three straight. Gearing up for Bayou Classic?
Good news: Jaguars won. Bad news: TSU is a bad matchup.
8. TEXAS SOUTHERN
Reigning champs can still run, play defense. Upset alert!
9. ALCORN STATE
Braves are in very real danger of losing out. Gruesome year.
10. MISS. VALLEY STATE
The streak is over! The streak is over! It’s worth saying twice.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Mississippi Valley State
at South Alabama, 6:30 p.m.
at Alcorn State, 2 p.m.
at Jackson State, 2 p.m.
at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 2:30 p.m.
at Texas State, 3 p.m.
at Texas Southern, 6 p.m.
GAME OF THE WEEK
at Jackson State
2 p.m. Saturday
Veterans Memorial Stadium
This game features some of the top playmakers in the SWAC. Grambling receiver Mario Louis has 35 catches for 683 yards, and in coach Doug Williams’ words, he’s been the go-to guy when Grambling needs a big play. Also, sophomore Dawrence Roberts has emerged as a capable running back; he has 596 rushing yards and four touchdowns. JSU, of course, has quarterback Casey Therriault, who leads the SWAC with 2,441 passing yards and 17 TDs.
AROUND THE SWAC
* What a week at Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils - losers of 18 straight games under second-year coach Karl Morgan - snapped their skid with a surprising 12-9 win over Texas Southern, the reigning conference champion. TSU’s strong ground game managed only 43 rushing yards - a total that stunned Tigers coach Kevin Ramsey. “We didn’t move the ball up front. We didn’t protect,” Ramsey said. “And it was like we were playing the ‘86 Bears up there.”
* Alcorn State coach Melvin Spears said he tried to tell his players they were in for an electric atmosphere at A.W. Mumford Stadium, where Southern cruised to a 30-14 win last week. “We talked to our guys all week about just the atmosphere down there,” Spears said. “It was just outstanding. ? We were just ambushed right away. Coach (Stump) Mitchell had his team up and ready to go.”
* At Alabama State, a magical season has come to a crossroads. The Hornets still hold a half-game lead over Alabama A&M in the Eastern Division, but after the Bulldogs won a thrilling Magic City Classic 20-19, only they control their own fate. ASU has to hope A&M loses between now and the end of the season. The Hornets travel to Arkansas-Pine Bluff this week - hardly a layup, even though 12 UAPB players are suspended.
* Doug Williams gave a salute to Penn State coach Joe Paterno - who not only surpassed Eddie Robinson last week with a Division I record 409 victories, but praised Robinson on national TV, calling the Grambling legend a great friend. “I look at him and I look at coach (Robinson) the same way, as far as longevity,” Williams said. “And that doesn’t happen today, that coaches stay around so long. So I think we’ve all got to take our hat off to coach Paterno.”