Southern @ TSU018.JPG

Southern wide receiver Marquis McClain races downfield as Texas Southern defensive back Marquis Walker closes in during during their game March 20 at BBVA Stadium in Houston.

What’s at stake

The Jaguars need a strong start in Southwestern Athletic Conference play with the tough part of the schedule coming up soon. Getting off to a good start in this game, coming out of an open date, is huge. At the same time, Southern has to take TSU seriously despite the Tigers' 18-game SWAC losing streak. It’s been a long time since TSU has beaten the Jaguars, but Clarence McKinney has been building a team that's stocked with upperclassmen and could be a team hiding in the weeds, waiting for a chance to score the upset.

Key matchup

Southern G Jonathan Bishop vs. TSU LB Tarik Cooper: Bishop is the team’s top run blocker and the key to the SWAC-leading Southern ground game. His experience and leadership keeps the Jaguars grounded, and he will have to find Cooper and neutralize him on inside runs. Cooper is the Tigers’ leading tackler and gets good support from a big, physical front line. If he can slow the Southern running game and keep the Jaguars offense off the field, he gives his team a chance to unleash its newfound offensive weapons.

Players to watch

Jaguars: WR Marquis McClain is starting to come on strong with four catches for 71 yards after missing the opener. He’s especially tough in the red zone where he uses his size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) to create space and make tough catches on 50-50 balls. S Jakoby Pappillion started slow because of a lingering injury but has played more snaps as the season progressed. He led Southern with six solo tackles and picked off a pass in the last game against Mississippi Valley.

Tigers: QB Andrew Body gets his first real test after throwing three TD passes and running for two scores last week. The Jaguars will throw a lot at the freshman QB in hopes of confusing him and forcing some mistakes. S Andre Gibbs is a top tackler in the open field for the Tigers and plays well up close to the line of scrimmage as well. The Jaguars have to know where he is on every play and watch him sneaking up for a blitz in passing situations.

Facts and figures

TSU’s last SWAC victory was Nov. 18, 2017, vs. UAPB. ... Southern has won nine straight against TSU, its last loss 29-15 in 2011. ... S Tamaurice Smith leads Southern with five pass breakups. ... The Jaguars have only three takeaways in four games. ... Southern has scored eight TDs in 12 red-zone chances. ... Freshman Joshua Griffin has had only 10 of his 21 kickoffs returned. ... Twelve different Jaguars have caught at least one pass. ...  Freshman RB Kobe Dillon is averaging 8.7 yards per carry.

Numbers worth knowing

7: Number of Southern receivers with at least 1 TD catch.

32: Number of tackles for loss by Southern defensive players.

300: Yards rushing per game allowed by TSU this season.

Prediction and why

Southern 37, Texas Southern 17: The Tigers got a boost against a weak opponent last week, and Southern is coming out of an open date much healthier than it went in. The Jaguars running game will set the tone early and give QB Bubba McDaniel breathing room to hit big plays downfield. The more McDaniel plays, the better he will get. Texas Southern is getting a second start from freshman QB Andrew Body, and the Jaguars should make his life difficult with pressure in the pocket and by shutting down the ground game. The defense wants to make up for the sloppy, inconsistent effort last time out.