What’s at stake
Not as much as either team’s last meeting, because this game does not count in the Southwestern Athletic Conference standings. It was added after the six-game spring schedules were set. But every game matters in the compressed spring season since no team knows which game will be its last. Bragging rights in this game are exceeded only by those when playing Grambling in the Bayou Classic. It's also likely Southern coach Dawson Odums, the dean of SWAC coaches in his ninth season, would like make a statement by hanging a loss on Jackson State’s rookie coach Deion Sanders.
Southern quarterback Ladarius Skelton against Jackson State linebacker Keonte Hampton. Skelton is the Jaguars' most dangerous runner and a real handful when he’s running the option. He carried 12 times for 75 yards last week as Southern signaled a return to its roots with a run-based offense. Hampton is a tackling machine and the reigning SWAC defensive Player of the Year. He’s tied for the team lead with 37 tackles and has an interception, fumble recovery and pass broken up. He makes plays from sideline to sideline and is a run-stopper in the trenches.
Players to watch
Jaguars: Running back Jerodd Sims is the top rusher among running backs, using a combination of power and speed. He’s especially good around the goal line, as evidenced by his three rushing touchdowns, and has become a good receiver out of the backfield. Sims has five receptions for 61 yards and two TDs. Defensive end Jalen Ivy has strong pass rush skills, and with Jackson State wary of SWAC sack leader Jordan Lewis on the other side, he could get a lot of one-on-one blocking assignments.
Tigers: Quarterback Jalon Jones is having an MVP-worthy year through four games with 773 yards and nine TDs passing, but he’s also rushed for 215 yards and five more scores. Southern hasn’t faced a dual threat this good in its first three games. Pressure will be the key as Alabama State sacked him five times two weeks ago. Cornerback De’Jahn Warren was the No. 1 junior college cornerback who had committed to Georgia but flipped to Jackson State on signing day. He is also dangerous as a return man with a 25-yard punt return and a 96-yard kickoff return that was called back because of a penalty.
Facts and figures
This is the 70th meeting between Southern and Jackson State. ... The Jaguars are 14-2 after an open date under Dawson Odums. ... Skelton has accounted for 49 touchdowns in 22 consecutive games started. ... Southern athletes received their COVID-19 vaccines last week at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. They received the one-time Johnson&Johnson vaccine. ... Southern beat Jackson State 98-0 in the first meeting in 1929. ... With the extra year of eligibility remaining, Jordan Lewis with 24½ career sacks has a chance at the all-time FCS record of 59 held by james Cowser of Southern Utah (2012).