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Southern players hit the field just before the start of the Jaguars' game against Prairie View A&M, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 at Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge. SU won 34-28.

What’s at stake

It’s probably too early to say the season is hanging in the balance, but a loss here all but knocks Southern out of the West Division race in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The flip side is that a victory propels the Jaguars right back into the race, owning a tiebreaker with Prairie View and a chance the next week to do the same to Alcorn State. Southern’s road schedule is done, with no more games outside of Louisiana. That’s an advantage the Jaguars need to seize and squeeze. There should be enough homecoming juice to create a hostile environment and maybe have a residual effect throughout this crucial four-game homestretch.

Key matchup

Southern CB Glenn Brown vs. Prairie View WR Jailon Howard: Brown is Southern’s top cover corner and will be matched against the Panthers' best receivers. Howard is easily the most dangerous, averaging 28.3 yards per catch with four TDs on 12 receptions. Those numbers scream that the Panthers are going deep to Howard multiple times, and Brown has to be on his toes. Southern may roll safeties to that side at times but because the PVU has a strong running game, at some point Brown is going to be one-on-one with Howard. The Jaguars pass rush will have to give him some help by affecting QB Jawon Pass.

Players to watch

JAGUARS: RB Kobe Dillon had a breakout game and the Panthers defense will be waiting for him. Don’t expect 18-wheeler-size holes to appear like they did last week. But Dillon runs with toughness uncommon in a freshman, as well as speed. DE Tyran Nash has quietly put together a strong season as the unknown defensive end behind Jordan Lewis, who may be out with an injury, and Jalen Ivy. He’s got to get some quick penetration with his pass rush or QB Jawon Pass will pick Southern apart.

PANTHERS: RB Lydemian Brooks is a 5-foot-8, 165-pound senior waterbug who makes the Panthers running game go. His elusiveness makes him especially dangerous in the passing game where he has 11 catches. Jaguars defenders will have to lock on and get him on the ground with sure tackling, which hasn’t always been their strength. DL Jason Dumas, a St. James product, won’t be hard to find: he wears No. 1, and the Jaguars will have to deal with if it is to run the ball successfully. He leads the team with six tackles for loss, which may require some double-teams.

Facts and figures

Southern has won the last four meetings and six of the last seven. PVU had a five-game winning streak from 2008-12. ... Southern’s defense has 46 tackles for loss. ... PVU has allowed only seven sacks in six games. ... Southern’s defense has allowed opponents to convert 47.4 third down opportunities (36-76). ... PV foes have returned 12 of 29 kickoffs for an 18-yard average.

Numbers worth knowing

6: Number of takeaways by the Prairie View defense this season.

10: Number of takeaways by the takeaways by Southern defense.

12: Number of red-zone touchdowns by Southern, in 18 attempts.

Prediction and why

Prairie View 38, Southern 33: Outside of Troy, the Panthers are the best team Southern will have faced — and although the Jaguars showed improvement last week, it’s becoming evident they’ve gone 2-1 against the three worst SWAC teams on their schedule. Coach Eric Dooley has been building the PV program and got the final piece of the puzzle in QB Jawon Pass, whose multiple skills will be too much for the Southern defense to handle. The Jaguars will score and move the ball but won’t be able to keep up with the Panther machine as it rolls toward a showdown for the West Division title with Alcorn State. Averaging eight penalties per game, Southern has a habit of self-inflicting many of their in-game troubles.