The road to the 2015 Toyota Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship game — and a Celebration Bowl berth — has been filled with upsets, close calls and surprises.
With the season heading into the home stretch, teams are jockeying for position as the divisional races heat up.
At the season’s midpoint, defending conference champion Alcorn State (4-2 overall, 3-1 SWAC) sits atop the Eastern Division standings while Grambling State (5-2, 5-0) leads the Western Division and remains the league’s only unbeaten team.
After those spots, the divisional races get a little murkier. So much murkier that you might need GPS and one of those huge atlases sold at truck stops — along with a liter of Mountain Dew — to navigate the SWAC’s tiebreaker criteria.
In the West, Prairie View A&M (4-2, 4-1) and defending division champion Southern (3-3, 3-1) are on the heels of the G-Men entering the season’s stretch run. The West is Grambling’s to lose, but GSU is walking a figurative and mathematical tightrope.
- GSU has four remaining games —all SWAC contests — on its schedule: Saturday’s homecoming against Mississippi Valley State, Nov. 7 against Texas Southern in Shreveport in the Red River Classic, Nov. 14 at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Nov. 28 Bayou Classic against Southern. Grambling must run the table in order to punch its ticket to Houston for the SCG while saving the SWAC office the headache of solving a potential three-team tie.
- Prairie View, like Grambling, has four remaining games with conference title implications left on its slate. The Panthers host UAPB on Halloween before hitting the road for back-to-back games at Alcorn State (Nov. 7) and Alabama State (Nov. 14). The Panthers’ season ends Nov. 21 with a home game against a Jackson State club playing for pride.
- Southern has five more SWAC games left on its schedule, starting this weekend in Houston against Texas Southern. The Jaguars then host Alcorn State on Halloween before going on the road to take on UAPB. SU entertains AAMU Nov. 14 before taking on Grambling.
Remember, the G-Men defeated PVAMU in a 70-54 shootout at the State Fair Classic in late September. Meanwhile, the Panthers upended the Jaguars 47-42 in Baton Rouge last weekend.
In the East, meanwhile, Alabama A&M (2-4, 2-2) is one loss behind the Braves with five more SWAC games on the schedule. Alabama State (3-4, 3-3) is still within striking distance, but only has three more conference games left in its four remaining regular-season games. Alcorn is the class of the division, but the Braves are not necessarily out of the woods yet.
- Alcorn has five games left on the schedule, all SWAC games. The Braves travel down U.S. Highway 61 for a key rivalry game against Southern on Halloween before hosting Prairie View on The Reservation Nov. 7. Alcorn travels to take on Texas Southern Nov. 14, plays host to AAMU Nov. 21 and ends the season on the road at Jackson State Nov. 28.
- Alabama State travels to Birmingham to face AAMU in the Magic City Classic on Halloween before traveling to take on J-State Nov. 7 and ending its conference schedule Nov. 14 at home against Prairie View. The Hornets end their regular season at home Nov. 21 against Miles College.
- Alabama A&M takes on Mississippi Valley at home the week after the Magic City Classic. The Bulldogs then travel to Southern (Nov. 14) and Alcorn (Nov. 21) before ending the regular season at home against Texas Southern (Nov. 28).