Storyline: Big cats in the SWAC
One of the more bitter rivalries in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Jackson State and Southern have accounted for three SWAC Championships since 1999, the year of the inaugural conference title game, and have reached the game a combined seven times. The two schools, who shared dominance of the conference in the 1990s, have met on the gridiron every year since 1958, including twice in 1999. Southern holds a slim all-time series lead 29-28.
Keep an eye on: Southern DB Virgil Williams
Southern will face two dynamic wide receivers from Jackson State in Tobias Singleton and Zach Pendleton. The combination has tallied 595 combined receiving yards in four games this season. The Jaguars will rely on their preseason All-SWAC cornerback Virgil Williams to take away one side of the field, allowing Southern to roll coverage. Williams is back in action this week after missing last Saturday’s contest at Mississippi Valley State with a rib injury.
Key matchup: Southern WR Lee Doss vs. Jackson State secondary
Doss has had his way this season with defensive backs, especially the past two weeks. However, Doss will face the biggest challenge he’s seen so far this season, and perhaps the biggest challenge he’ll face all season, when he faces Jackson State cornerback Qua Cox. Cox tallied 5 interceptions last season to go along with eight pass breakups and 13 passes defended, good enough to earn him preseason SWAC defensive player of the year honors. His stats aren’t as glamorous so far this season, with zero interceptions and only one pass breakup and pass defended, but it’s more of a product of quarterbacks refusing to throw to his side of the field. This is how Cox vs. Doss went last season, with Doss tallying four catches for 66 yards.
X Factor: Southern WR Willie Quinn
If the secret wasn’t out on Doss, it is now. Doss has 19 catches, 378 yards and three touchdowns the past two weeks. With that, Doss is sure to see extra attention from here on and quarterback Dray Joseph will look to other receivers. Enter Willie Quinn. Quinn was held out of the end zone for the first time last week in a 17-7 win at Mississippi Valley State but did produce a 43-yard reception to set up the first touchdown. Quinn is second on the team in receptions (19), yards (242) and receiving touchdowns (3).