THE RATING GAME

1. ALABAMA STATE

Hornets keep playing great defense, keep on winning. Bravo.

2. JACKSON STATE

The close call at Mississippi Valley has to be a mild concern.

3. ALABAMA A&M

We’ve seen a different team since the SU loss on Sept. 10.

4. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF

Will forthcoming penalties cripple chance at West title?

5. PRAIRIE VIEW

Panthers had rough go at ASU, but still a West contender.

6. SOUTHERN

Fourth loss by less than a TD. And penalties likely coming.

7. TEXAS SOUTHERN

Tigers gave A&M a tough time. These guys are a tough out.

8. GRAMBLING

Tigers got much-needed win. Next up: Valley. Beware.

9. ALCORN STATE

Braves aren’t the only ones who will miss ?Zeus.’

10. MISS. VALLEY STATE

Sooner or later, Devils will break through, get that first win.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

SATURDAY

Mississippi Valley State

at Grambling, 2 p.m.

Central State

at Texas Southern, 2 p.m.

Concordia

at Alcorn State, 2 p.m.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Mississippi Valley State

at Grambling

2 p.m. Saturday

Robinson Stadium

This is the only game between two SWAC teams. Six schools - Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Jackson State, Prairie View and Southern - are idle this week. ... Grambling wide receiver Mario Louis ranks second in the conference with 569 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. ... Valley running back Trey Bateaste ranks sixth in the league at 56.4 rushing yards per game. ... Devils coach Karl Morgan said quarterback Garrick Jones - who missed the Southern game with a high ankle sprain - gives his team “the best chance to win.” Jones has completed 52 percent of his throws for six touchdowns and four interceptions.

AROUND THE SWAC

• Alabama State is unbeaten in SWAC play with three regular-season games to go, beginning with the Magic City Classic next week against Alabama A&M. Wide receiver Nick Andrews became No. 1 in receptions in school history last week, surpassing Damon Hodge (176). Andrews is now No. 1 all-time in receptions (178) and receiving touchdowns (26). He needs 108 receiving yards to surpass his coach, Reggie Barlow (2,536), for the Hornets’ career yardage record.

• Grambling quarterback D.J. Williams played against Concordia College last week despite a turf-toe injury. “As a quarterback, that’s his plant and push-off foot. You’ve got you’re whole body pressing down on it,” said coach Doug Williams, who said D.J. Williams and fellow freshman Frank Rivers will both continue to play.

•?Struggles in the kicking game are hardly limited to Southern these days. Prairie View coach Heishma Northern can sympathize. Freshman kicker Chris Barrick had missed only one field goal until last week’s 20-7 loss at Alabama State, when Barrick missed three that were, as Northern put it, “well within his range. ... I think that’s one of those things that a freshman kicker goes through.”

• Think the Jaguars are the only snake-bitten team in the SWAC? Consider this: Texas Southern, the reigning champion, ranks second in total offense and first in total defense - and somehow, the Tigers are 1-4 in conference play. Their latest loss was by three points, 24-21, at Alabama A&M. “Without a doubt, that was a bitter cup to drink from,” interim coach Kevin Ramsey said.