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CSN SWAC Attack: Judgement Night
By Brandon Williams, CSN SWAC Attack Columnist
In the spirit of a 1993 rap song from Onyx and Biohazard, tonight is “Judgement Night” in the SWAC.
One game. Sixty minutes.
For both Prairie View A&M and Southern University, a season is at stake.
Perhaps no game on the SWAC docket means as much as tonight’s tilt between the Panthers and Jaguars. For PV, it is a chance to dead-bolt the West division title and move the program into its first conference championship game. For Southern, it represents redemption from last season’s 24-23 loss in Houston and an opportunity to make next month’s Bayou Classic against Grambling State a winner-take-all scenario.
To hell with CSI, The Office or whatever banal “reality” show that is littering the screens tonight. This 6:30 p.m. (Central) game on ESPNU is Must-See TV.
“It’s definitely a big ballgame,” said Prairie View coach Henry Frazier.
“Big,” as in “historic” for the Panthers.
It would not be a stretch to say that a win tonight would be the biggest in decades for PV, which is in the midst of a 20-5 stretch since the beginning of 2007. A victory would put the Panthers in the SWAC penthouse, culminating a gradual climb from years as perpetual beggars residing in the slag heaps of college football.
With the Curse of Grambling cured, a win allows Prairie View to cruise through a remaining schedule with a two-game lead on both Southern and GSU. Only dates with Alabama A&M, Alcorn State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff would separate the Panthers from a destiny that appeared distant and bleak prior to Frazier’s arrival on campus.
But for that to happen, it means getting past a Southern offense that – with quarterback Bryant Lee and wide receiver Jumorris Stewart – can break wills and title dreams in a flash.
Last week’s rout of Fort Valley State was the tonic the Jags needed to alieve the sting of their loss to Jackson State. Lee fired a trio of touchdown passes, two to Stewart, who is slowly a climb on the charts of NFL scouts.
It’s not just the offensive firepower of Southern that the Panthers have to contend with. The Jaguars’ defense leads the SWAC with a +13 turnover margin and will look to rattle red-hot PV quarterback K.C. Black.
A win for Southern moves them one step closer to ending a six-year drought without a SWAC title. As Stewart said before the start of the season, all the Jaguars wanted to do “is get some hardware.”
By night’s end, someone will be one step closer to grasping hardware in Birmingham, Ala. on Dec. 12.
REPLAY HITS THE SWAC (KIND OF)
Tonight’s game will also provide the conference with its first sample of instant replay, which will be used in a dry run.
The league plans to use replay in the Dec. 12 title game, and will take advantage of the extra video equipment provided by ESPNU’s crew.
SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp hopes that one day the league will be able to implement it full time, but costs have prevented the possibility for now.
“If we couldn’t do it across the board for all the schools, we just decided not to use it this year,” he said. “We’ll look at it (tonight), but it will not be used in the game.”
GAME OF THE WEEK
Need you ask?
IN OTHER GAMES
Alcorn State (2-3, 2-1) at Alabama State (3-3, 0-3)
Don’t look now, but the Braves have an offense. Alcorn has averaged nearly 33 points per game in their last three behind the sizzling arm of QB Tim Buckley. A listless performance against Grambling all but ended the slim East division hopes of the Hornets, who have managed all of 25 points in SWAC play.
Jackson State (1-5, 1-3) at Mississippi Valley State (2-4, 1-3)
This shapes up as an elimination game for the loser. Both hold faint postseason hopes; that said, don’t expect a shootout from either offense, both of which rank at the bottom of the SWAC in inefficiency.
Edward Waters at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (3-2, 2-1)
The Golden Lions lie in the weeds of the West division. What should be an easy win over an NAIA oppenent should give Monte Coleman’s team a boost heading into next weekend’s game against Southern, which – depending on the outcome of tonight’s game – could give A-PB a ticket into what would be a wild, wild West heading into November.