FACTS & STATS: Site: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (65,000) – New Orleans, Louisiana.
Surface: Artificial. Television: NBC. Annual: 41st Bayou Classic. Bayou Classic
Record: Tied (20-20). Home Record: Grambling 2-1; Southern 5-1. Road Record:
Grambling 4-3; Southern 3-2. Neutral Record: Grambling 1-0; Southern 0-0.
Nicknames: Grambling State Tigers; Southern Jaguars. Southwestern Athletic
Conference Record: Grambling 7-1; Southern 7-1. Series record: Southern U
(31-30). Last meeting: Nov. 30, 2013 (Southern, 40-17, at New Orleans). Series
Streak: Southern has won the last two meetings. Head Coaches: Grambling State –
Broderick Fobbs (7-4 at Grambling State); Southern – Dawson Odums (20-12 at
Southern). Sheridan Broadcasting Network Rankings: Grambling State (5);
Southern (2). HSRN Rankings: Grambling State (8); Southern (3).
GAME NOTES: With the exception of 2012, some of the recent Bayou Classics
haven’t been stellar. But this year’s matchup is highly anticipated as a berth
for the SWAC Championship Game is on the line. Grambling and Southern are tied
atop the West Division with 7-1 conference records and the winner will go on to
meet East champion Alcorn State on Dec. 6 in Houston.
Both teams are similar in the points they score and allow, with Grambling
averaging 31 points and surrendering 30.5 per game, and Southern scoring 33.5
points per game and allowing 31.1 per game.
After back-to-back one-win seasons, Grambling has had its fortunes turn around
under first-year coach Broderick Fobbs, who played for the Tigers under
legendary coach Eddie Robinson and is nominated for the national coach of the
year honors named for his former mentor.
Grambling features a fierce pass rush with 45 sacks, led by linebackers Steve
Orisakwe (18.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks) and Aaron Breed (19 tackles for
loss, eight sacks). Cornerback Tyree Hollins holds up the back end with five
interceptions and six pass breakups.
Just as important, Johnathan Williams has settled in as Grambling’s
quarterback. The position had gone through change in recent seasons.
Southern, the 2013 SWAC champion, is on a six-game winning streak under coach
Dawson Odums. The Jaguars prefer to keep the ball in the hands of running back
Lenard Tillery, who is nearing 1,000 yards, and Willie Quinn, whose 755
receiving yards rank fourth in the conference. A freshman, Austin Howard, is
their starting quarterback, but he has gone two straight games without throwing
a touchdown. As good as Grambling pass rush has been, the Jaguars have allowed
only seven sacks in 11 games.
On defense, Demetrius Carter leads Southern with 87 tackles and Arthur Miley
has seven sacks to go along with 50 tackles.
PREDICTION: Southern has championship experience and a better run game. Those
are pivotal factors in a terrific Bayou Classic matchup. Southern, 28-20.