SWAC West title at stake again for Grambling-Southern showdown in Bayou Classic
The weather is perfect, the timing is excellent and the stage is set in New Orleans for Grambling and Southern to renew their storied rivalry.
The two rivals square off at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to a national television audience in the 69th meeting between the two schools in the 44th annual Bayou Classic. Southern leads the series 36-32.
While a significant number of people are in town and the city will enjoy an economic boom, the game carries great significance.
The game will decide who represents the SWAC in the West Division championship game for a second consecutive season.
The Tigers (9-1, 6-0) can win the SWAC outright with a victory while Southern (7-3, 5-1) can tie Grambling for the West Division title and claim the spot in the conference championship game with a victory.
Grambling returns to the city where it opened its season.
Back on Sept. 2, the Tigers lost 43-14 to Tulane at Yulman Stadium. Since then, they have ripped on 10 straight wins against teams on its level.
Both coaches have done superb jobs with their programs.
Broderick Fobbs took a downtrodden program that was in the brink of anarchy, of becoming irrelevant, and has turned the Tigers into a championship team. Dawson Odums has restored the roar with the Jaguars, who went through the valley of being mediocre for a few years.
Southern overcame a 1-3 start to win six straight games. Two of the three Southern losses came to FBS schools in UTSA and Southern Miss. The only conference loss was to East Division leader Alcorn State.
The Jaguars are a hot team, scoring 30 or more points in their last seven games.
Grambling is ranked 12th in the nation in the latest FCS rankings.
Interestingly, both the Tigers and Jaguars have scored 218 points in conference play. The difference is in the defense, where Grambling has allowed just 98 points while Southern has give up 157 points. Overall, Grambling averages 32.2 points per game while allowing 19.2 points per contest. Southern averages 28 points per game while allowing 27.5 per contest.
Senior quarterback Devante Kincade has completed 170-of-278 passes (61%) for 2,286 yards and 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Senior Martez Carter leads Grambling in rushing with 132 carries for 757 yards and eight touchdowns. Sophomore Darrell Clark of Warren Easton is the top receiver with 31 receptions for 382 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, junior linebacker De’Arius Christmas leads the Tigers with 72 tackles, including 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Defenslive lineman La’Allan Clark has 7.5 sacks. Senior defensive back De’Aumante Johnson leads the team with four interceptions.
For the Jaguars, senior Austin Howard of West St. John has overcome an injury which caused him to miss a pair of games to complete 147-of-241 passes (61%) for 1,734 yards with 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Senior Herbert Edwards of St. Augustine is the leading rusher with 160 carries for 909 yards and five touchdowns. Freshman Jamar Washington is the leading receiver with 34 receptions for 392 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, senior linebacker Kentavious Preston leads the Jaguars with 64 tackles and has one interception. Senior linebacker Aaron Tiller is an outstanding pass rusher with 9.5 sacks while senior defensive back Danny Johnson has three interceptions.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…