The last time Alabama State and Southern met, it was a Jaguars 64-6 route of the Hornets — one of the most decisive outcomes in series history.
And a lot has changed since then.
Friday night will mark the first competitive action for either school since 2019 before the COVID-19 wiped out the fall 2020 season.
It will also signal a matchup that realistically could be a preview of the SWAC Championship Game.
Southern is favored by many, including HBCU Sports, to not only will the SWAC West but to win the league title.
Alabama State figures to be right in the mix with in-state foe Alabama A&M for SWAC East supremacy after Alcorn State — the reigning division and conference champions — decided to opt-out of the spring football season due to ongoing concerns related to the coronavirus.
The Hornets, who play host to Southern, will be led by senior running back Ezra Gray. In 2019, Gray rushed for 706 yards in his last full season of action.
Junior receiver Michael Jefferson returns for his third season after an impressive sophomore year that saw him catch 12 touchdowns the last time Alabama State took the field.
The defensive side for the Hornets is just as strong as the unit features three first time All-SWAC selections that include defensive lineman Christian Clark and defensive backs Naytron Culpepper and Keenan Issac.
For Southern, a 7.5-point favorite to win tonight’s game, the team is expected to pick up right where it left off in 2019 by featuring its strong running attack led by the tandem of Devon Benn and Jarod Sims. The pair helped the Jaguars in leading the conference in rushing.
The quarterback situation is expected to be fluid as Southern head coach Dawson Odums recently suggested that he might alternate between prohibitive starter Ladarius Skelton and backup Bubba McDaniel.
“We have a group of guys we know can lead our football team. (LaDarius’ passing) is much improved,” Odums told The Advocate. “He made the right reads, went to the right places, had command of the huddle. That’s something all three had was discipline in the huddle. He did a good job going through his progressions. No one leading the quarterback race. You don’t know when you are going to be down a guy. The confidence in that room says a lot about our recruiting process and the guys we have.”
Southern at Alabama State
TIME: 6 p.m. CST
TV: ESPN 3