By Tony McClean
Updated: October 13, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — The cover of this year’s Jackson State football media guide features new head coach Rick Comegy and the theme “Makin’ It Happen: Right Here, Right Now”.
The former headman at Tuskegee took over a Jackson State program that had gone 8-23 (including 2-6 in 2005) over the last three seasons. With an overall 4-1 mark (3-0 in conference), the Tigers are now sitting atop the SWAC’s Eastern Division.
Saturday night, the fourth-ranked Tigers look to keep up their momentum when they host the eighth-ranked Jaguars of Southern (3-3) in a key SWAC battle at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Just how big a game is this for coach Comegy and his Tigers? Since 1996, Jackson State has lost eight of their last nine meetings with Southern including three straight.
Also, with some 25,000 members of the “Jaguar Nation” expected to be on hand at the game, JSU fans have been asked by the athletic department to wear white t-shirts or other paraphernalia to completely white-out the home side of the stadium.
”We want a sea of white on our side,” said JSU athletic director Robert Braddy about Saturday’s first “White Out” at Memorial Stadium. ”This is our house and we’re going to make sure they know that,” Braddy added.
Norfolk State at (1) Hampton, 1:30 pm
(Battle of The Bay Classic)
The Pirates (6-0, 4-0 MEAC) look to stretch their regular season winning streak to 24 straight with a win against the Spartans (3-2, 1-2 MEAC). HU has won eight of their last nine meetings against NSU, the only blemish came in a 28-20 loss in 2001. In fact, since the initial Battle of the Bay in 1988, the Pirates have dominated the series with a 12-5-1 advantage. HU tailback Alonzo Coleman needs 101 more yards to surpass Howard’s Harvey Reed (4,142) and become the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher.
(2) N.C. Central at Fayetteville State, 6 pm
The last two seasons this contest has decided the Western Division. In 2004, the Broncos won a 17-7 thriller and represented the West for the third year in a row in the Championship Game. Last season, NCCU survived FSU, knocking them off for the first time since 2001 and went ahead to win the West and the CIAA Championship Game. NCCU can ill-afford a loss with JCSU on their heels. Also, a loss will hurt the Eagles’ lofty standings in the Southeast Region. The Eagles will complete the last leg of a four game road trip in which they have gone 3-0.
Stillman College at (3) Alabama A&M, 3 pm
The Tigers churned out 440 yards of offense in last week’s 34-11 win at the hands of Fort Valley State. However, this week they head down to Huntsville to meet a Bulldog squad looking to maintain their modest two-game winning for its Homecoming. SC held FVSU to just 15 yards on the ground Saturday. A&M’s offense is keyed by the 1-2 punch of Ta’Mar Scott and Kelcy Luke. Scott leads the SWAC in rushing and Luke leads the SWAC in total offense.
(5) Grambling State at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6 pm
The Tigers (2-3) are slowly working their way back to the .500 mark as they attempt to win another road SWAC contest. They catch an APBU (2-3, 1-2 SWAC) team that’s coming off a bye week and playing with a heavy heart. Head coach Mo Forte has been in a hospital after experiencing chest pains at consecutive football games most recently in the locker room of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis after the Lions’ 36-19 win over Tuskegee.
(6) Elizabeth City State at Bowie State, 1 pm
It only makes sense that the Eastern favorite must go to the defending champ to wrestle away their crown. Bowie State saved their season at Shaw last weekend with a 17-14 come-from-behind win. With ECSU off to a 3-0 conference start, a third CIAA loss will eliminate Bowie State from championship contention. ECSU has shutout its last two opponents (St. Aug and VSU) and outscored them a whopping 76-0. The Vikings are off to their best start in years at 5-1 but must continue to win to set the pace in the East. QB Curtis Rich has thrown 14 TDs this season.
Clark Atlanta at (7) Albany State, 2 pm
Sitting alone atop the SIAC, the Golden Rams (4-2, 4-0 SIAC) look for their fourth straight win in a battle against the Panthers (2-4, 0-4 SIAC). CAU may be win less in the conference, but they do boast the eighth-ranked defense in all of Division II football. The Panthers also rolled up over 400 yards of offense in their win against George Mason last week. ASU’s D stepped up in last week’s 14-0 shutout against Miles College.
St. Augustine’s at (9) Johnson C. Smith, 6 pm
Without question, the surprise of the college football season is JCSU. However, at 5-1 and a regional ranking, JCSU still has work to do. St. Aug has stumbled this season after last year’s fantastic campaign. However, they proved last week that they still have fight in them. The Falcons fought NCCU down to the wire finally falling 27-18 and will battle the Golden Bulls. JCSU has been stout defensively led by the line backing corps of Fred Williams and Ed Wilson. The Golden Bulls have only given up 7 points in its last two contests. The Golden Bulls are also fighting to earn a postseason game. (i.e, Championship Game, Pioneer Bowl)
Miles College at (10) Lane College, 6 pm
With both teams licking their wounds from last week, something’s got to give in this much anticipated battle in Tennessee. The Dragons (6-1, 3-1) have the conference’s second ranked offense while Miles (4-2, 3-1) boasts the SIAC’s third ranked defense. LC was handed its first loss of the season by Kentucky State and they look to re-energize its potent offense which was held to season lows in total yards and rushing yards last week. The winner of this game will still entertain a shot at the SIAC crown while the loser will all but be eliminated.