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Southern's band marches up the ramp into the stands before the Jaguars' game Saturday against Jackson State at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi.

In recent years, Southern has owned its football rivalry against Jackson State, one of the most intense in HBCU football.

When the teams renew acquaintances at 4 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi, interesting variables will be at play which could further intensify an already intense series.

Take a look at key information before this afternoon's kickoff below.

Southern at Jackson State

WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Jackson, Miss.


RADIO: KQXL-FM, 106.5 

Four downs

Keep the momentum

Southern played its best all-around game in perhaps two seasons last time out. The COVID-19 issues league-wide have added to the problems of keeping things consistent. The Jaguars had open dates before their past two games and will have another one before their next game against Prairie View game was postponed before the Bayou Classic. It takes concentration and dedication, but that’s something to be expected from a team with so many fourth and fifth-year players. The Jaguars also seemed to get their quarterback in the right frame of mind after struggling in the first two games.

Get physical with WRs

It’s a good motto for any defender but especially so for the Jaguars defensive backs, who will face a talented, physically imposing wide receiver corps. Daylen Baldwin and Corey Reed Jr. are both 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. Warren Newman, who prepped at Karr in New Orleans, is only 5-8 and 175 but speedy and shifty. Tamaurice Smith, Glenn Brown and Jordan Eastling have been solid, but will have their hands full and will need help from safeties Jakobi Jones and Chase Foster. If Jaguars defensive backs can hold their coverage long enough, it could help the rush pile up some sacks.

Don’t Do Deion

Deion Sanders retired before most Jaguars players reached kindergarten, so it shouldn’t be that hard not to think about one of the most exciting athletes of our time as head coach on the other sideline. Just to make sure, coach Dawson Odums did not allow media interviews for his players this week. But in this information age, no doubt Southern players have seen some Neon Deion highlights on Youtube and their parents might be waiting around for a chance at an autograph, fist bump or handshake from Mr. Prime Time. Sanders is 53 and won’t be taking off the headsets to jump in the game.

Bring the heat

The Southern defense has been good at creating havoc for opposing quarterbacks with its pass rush. Led by Jordan Lewis, the Jaguars have 10 sacks in three games. Jalon Lewis was sacked five times last week in the loss to Alabama State, so Southern may want to run some blitzes and twists to keep Jones off balance. It has to be a disciplined rush that contains Jones in the pocket because he’s dangerous when the protection breaks down and he starts looking for daylight. Lewis will likely flip from side to side to get a desirable matchup on blockers.

Numbers worth knowing

9: Turnovers forced by Jackson State

24½: Career sacks by Southern DE Jordan Lewis

3,002: Southern QB Ladarius Skelton’s career passing yards

Prediction and why

Southern 31, Jackson State 24

Southern finally put two good halves of football together last time out, so things may finally be coming together. The key is getting a lead or at least staying close so the Jaguars can let the running game take over and shorten the game. Southern is not a good come-from-behind team. The trip up to Jackson is barely a road game and there should be many Jaguars Nation faithful in attendance. Two of Jackson State’s victories have come against overmatched-lightweights Edward Waters and Mississippi Valley State and Saturday has the Tigers matched up against one of the SWAC's top programs.