Alcorn State (9-3) vs. Southern University (9-3) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Event: SWAC Championship. Annual: 16th. Site: NRG Park
(71,054) — Houston. Surface: Grass. Television: ESPNU. Announcers: Mark Neely,
Jay Walker and Tiffany Greene. Home Record: Alcorn State 6-1; Southern 5-1.
Away Record: Alcorn State 3-2; Southern 3-2. Neutral Record: Alcorn State 0-0;
Southern 1-0. Current Win/Loss Streak: Alcorn State 1L; Southern 7W. Series
Record: Alcorn State (33-21). Last Meeting: Sept. 27, 2014 (Alcorn State, 56-16
at Alcorn State). Series Streak: Alcorn State has won the last three meetings.
Nicknames: Alcorn State Braves; Southern University Jaguars. Sheridan
Broadcasting Network Poll Rankings: Alcorn State (3); Southern (1). Heritage
Sports Radio Network Poll Rankings: Alcorn State (5); Southern (3). Sports
Network Rankings: Alcorn State (37); Southern (NR). All-Time Records: Alcorn
State (438-344-38); Southern (563-332-25). Head Coaches: Alcorn State – Jay
Hopson (3rd year, 22-13 at Alcorn State at overall); Southern – Dawson Odums
(3rd year, 22-12 at Southern and overall). SWAC Championship Appearances:
Alcorn State 1 (2014); Southern 5 (1999, 2003-04, 2013-14). SWAC Championship
Record: Alcorn State (0-0); Southern (3-1). SWAC Championship Division Record:
Western Division owns an 12-3 record over the Eastern Division and has won the
last six years. 2013 SWAC Championship Result: Southern def. Jackson State,
34-27. MVP – Dray Joseph/Anthony Balancier, Southern.

GAME NOTES: The regular-season meeting was one-sided as Alcorn State crushed
Southern at home, 56-16. But this is the Braves’ first appearance in the
Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game, and defending champion
Southern has plenty of experienced players back from last year’s 34-27,
double-overtime win over Jackson State at NRG Stadium.

Alcorn racked up 410 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in the regular-
season win. Anthony Williams III rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and
Darry Ragsdale 125 yards and a score.

Quarterback John Gibbs is the Braves’ leading rusher (874, 11 TDs) and they
have increased the workload of freshman running back Arron Baker (667 yards,
13 TDs), who leads the team in touchdowns. The Braves average nearly 6.6 yards
per carry, which is tops in the FCS.

The 6-6 Gibbs also has thrown for 18 touchdowns as part of Alcorn’s 44.5-
points-per-game average. He’s well protected as the Braves have allowed only
seven sacks.

Conversely, Southern, which also has allowed only seven sacks, will look to
limit the Alcorn pass rush of Jamil Cooks (10 sacks), Darien Moody (7.5) and
Corey Williams (six) because the Jaguars start a freshman at quarterback,
Austin Howard. He played well, though, in last Saturday’s 52-45 win over
Grambling State in the Bayou Classic, passing for 258 yards and three
touchdowns.

But the Jaguars will first look to put the ball in the hands of surging
running back Lenard Tillery (1,141 yards, nine TDs). He had 168 yards and two
touchdowns against Grambling.

Southern’s defense gives up too yards (418.8 per game), but linebacker
Demetrius Carter is having a big season with a team-high 94 tackles.

Special teams might make a difference. Both teams have breakaway ability on
returns. Also, Southern has watched its opponents successfully convert all
three onside kicks.

PREDICTION: It won’t be a 40-point difference this time, but Southern has to
first prove it can stop the Alcorn run game. Alcorn, 35-27.