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Southern University running back Jerodd Sims (24) maneuvers during one of the very few plays he was in for against against Florida A&M University at A.W. Mumford Stadium, in the Rattlers' first game against the Jaguars since joining the SWAC, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.

It doesn’t take a close examination to see the pattern of Southern’s 2021 football season. Every loss is followed by a win, which is followed by a loss.

Rinse and repeat.

Coach Jason Rollins is painfully aware of that after last week’s loss to Florida A&M, but at least it bodes well for the upcoming game with rival Jackson State.

“That’s the same thing we are scratching our heads trying to figure out,” Rollins said of the team’s fortunes. "If this week goes to form, it should be a great week.”

In their last two losses, Southern has come off a strong first half offensively only to score seven points combined in the two second halves. The Jaguars managed only 51 yards of second-half offense in losing to the Rattlers.

“We tore it all down and tried to build it back up as far as what went wrong and how to not let it happen again,” Rollins said. “Some of it was execution, some of it was good defense we were playing, but at the end of the day we have to find a way.

“We missed a few touchdowns that could have changed the momentum of the game. When that happens, you start thinking it’s not the play and try to find something else, just going back and trying to execute it.”

Southern (4-5, 3-3 Southwestern Athletic Conference) was without two of its best running backs. Southern’s SWAC-leading rushing attack produced just 90 yards net after averaging 237 yards entering the game.

Dropped passes and an uncharacteristically inaccurate night by quarterback Bubba McDaniel kept Southern scoreless while the defense kept Southern in the game. Cornerback Tamaurice Smith and pass rush ace Jordan Lewis returned to action to boost the defense, and Rollins said the prospect for bigger contributions is there this week.

“Absolutely, they came out in pretty good shape,” Rollins said. “Hopefully with a good week of practice they’ll be closer to 100% Saturday. It was good to see those guys out there.”

Southern needs all hands on deck for the Tigers (8-1, 6-0), who can clinch the East title with a victory. Jackson State has been dominant in coach Deion Sanders’ second season, with only a 12-7 loss to Louisiana-Monroe smudging the record.

With a revamped roster featuring 49 new players and a strong defense, Jackson State has allowed only one team to score more than 19 points. The Tigers beat Texas Southern 41-21 last week.

Sanders has missed the last three games because of complications from foot surgery a month ago, but it hasn’t stopped the Tigers. His son, Shedeur, has completed 67.4% of his passes for 2,414 yards and 23 touchdown with only three interceptions in 291 attempts.

The defensive line leads the nation with 41 sacks and the conference with a 13.9 points allowed on average. Defensive end James Houston leads the Tigers with 10.5 sacks.

“They have a great scheme that highlights their defensive line,” Rollins said. “Those guys have played on the big stage before. They’re talented players and have a scheme that highlights their talent."