THE RATING GAME

1. ALABAMA STATE

Hornets passed two tough tests against Grambling, JSU.

2. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF

No fluke here. So far, Lions have been best in the West.

3. PRAIRIE VIEW

Panthers face Grambling in a huge West game this week.?

4. TEXAS SOUTHERN

Look out: Tigers lead the nation in total defense (144.3 ypg).

5. ALABAMA A&M

Bulldogs back on track with big win at Grambling last week.

6. JACKSON STATE

Tigers had 17 turnovers in past three games. They finally lost.

7. GRAMBLING

Team has lost back-to-back games, including home opener.

8. SOUTHERN

If Jaguars ever play a complete game, watch out. Until then ...

9. ALCORN STATE

Alcorn has been close. But latest loss dropped Braves to 1-3.?

10. MISS. VALLEY STATE

Delta Devils gave Prairie View a scare, but tumbled to 0-4.?

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

THURSDAY

Texas Southern

at Jackson State, 6:30 p.m.

SATURDAY

Mississippi Valley State

at Southern, 2 p.m.

Prairie View vs. Grambling,

at Dallas, 6 p.m.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff

at Alabama A&M, 6 p.m.

Alcorn State

at Alabama State, 7 p.m.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Prairie View vs. Grambling

6 p.m. Saturday

Cotton Bowl, Dallas

Over the past two seasons, these teams have met in some wildly entertaining games. In 2009, the Panthers took a big lead and held off the Tigers in a 35-32 thriller - Prairie View’s first win over Grambling since 1987. The Panthers went on to win their first SWAC championship since 1964. In last year’s meeting, PV had a 17-13 lead, but Grambling buried the Panthers in the second half of a 34-17 win. A loss Saturday would put the Tigers at 1-3 in SWAC play, with little chance at winning the Western Division.

AROUND THE SWAC

• All those turnovers finally bit Jackson State. The Tigers had 10 giveaways in two wins against Tennessee State and Southern, but couldn’t overcome seven more turnovers in a 21-14 home loss to Alabama State. Star quarterback Casey Therriault threw six interceptions. “We knew that if that would continue to occur, that a good football team was going to come in and beat you,” coach Rick Comegy said. JSU leads the nation with 19 turnovers.

• Anyone who dismisses scandal-ridden Texas Southern as a one-year wonder might have to think again. After one month, TSU leads the nation in total defense. And its rushing offense, with Martin Gilbert and Marcus Wright, is brutally effective, to the tune of 203.7 yards per game. “There’s no doubt that our eyes are on a certain shore ... that we’re looking forward to reaching together,” interim coach Kevin Ramsey said.

• You looking for big, big wins? Look directly to Alabama State, which just got two of them, back-to-back, on the road. The first was at Grambling, a place the Hornets have not typically fared well. Last week, they toppled Jackson State at Veterans Memorial Stadium. If there was any doubt before that ASU is the team to beat in the East, that doubt is gone now, and a buzz is brewing on campus. “Naturally, everybody likes a winner,” coach Reggie Barlow said.

e_SBlt?Times are good at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Running back Adrian Moore is turning into a powerful rusher (he has 307 yards), and the Golden Lions are off to a 2-0 start in conference play for the first time since 1997. But they shouldn’t feel too good just yet. “You slip and lose a couple or three games, all of a sudden, you’re out of the picture,” coach Monte Coleman said. This week, his team faces Alabama A&M, which just picked up a big road win at Grambling.