Photo: Jackson State athletics

I hope no one made any bets on how the SWAC would play out this season because whatever expectations anyone had is not playing out according to plan.

Both of the SWAC championship participants in the spring are currently sitting either at or toward the bottom of the division standings in the fall.

The last time either of the teams currently in first place (Jackson State and Prairie View) in their respective divisions appeared in a SWAC championship game was in 2013 and 2009, respectively.

Let’s take a look at the SWAC Football Midseason Report.

Jackson State

Record: (4-1, 2-0 SWAC)

Grade: A+

While there have been many surprises in the SWAC so far this season, Jackson State has not been one of them as they came into the season with high expectations to be a contender in the league. Each of its conference wins has come against Florida A&M and Alabama A&M.

Florida A&M

Record: (3-2, 1-1 SWAC)

Grade: B+

While many would consider Jackson State the top defensive team in the SWAC, it is actually Florida A&M that leads the conference, allowing just 11.8 points per game. In the Rattlers’ three wins, the unit held opponents to a combined 14 points.

Alabama State 

Record: (3-2, 2-1 SWAC)

Grade: C+

Strength of schedule is the one thing that keeps Alabama State from getting into the “B” category. Two of the Hornets three wins have come versus SWAC bottomfeeders and Division II Miles. In its one game against an opponent with a winning record, ASU was shut out 28-0 by Florida A&M.

Mississippi Valley State

Record: (2-3, 1-1 SWAC)

Grade: C+

Mississippi Valley State has been a pleasant surprise. Coming into the year, there was not much optimism for the Delta Devils to make much noise in the SWAC this season. As the season began, things looked to be headed in that direction as Mississippi Valley State lost its first three games. MVSU finally got in the win column defeating North Carolina Central on a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds before knocking off Bethune-Cookman.

Alabama A&M

Record: (3-2, 1-2 SWAC)

Grade: C

After what was a very good start for Alabama A&M in its quest to repeat as SWAC champions, things have fallen off the rails as of late. The Bulldogs suffered an upset loss to Grambling State that began a slide culminating in a 49-point loss to Jackson State.

Bethune-Cookman 

Record: (0-6, 0-3 SWAC)

Grade: F

Although Florida A&M has played well in its first season in the SWAC, the same could not be said about Bethune-Cookman. The Wildcats are the lone winless team remaining in the conference at 0-6 and one of two FCS HBCUs to fail to win a game this season.

Prairie View A&M

Record: (4-1, 3-0 SWAC)

Grade: A

One of the more surprising success stories in the SWAC has been Prairie View A&M. The Panthers are unbeaten in SWAC play through three conference games for the first time in a decade.

Alcorn State

Record: (3-2, 2-0 SWAC)

Grade: A-

As the only team to opt-out of the spring football season, Alcorn State fell into an early hole after a loss to North Carolina Central in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. The Braves now seem to be back on track after winning three of its last four games.

Texas Southern

Record: (2-3, 1-1 SWAC)

Grade: C

The term “nowhere to go but up from here” is a perfect description for Texas Southern Tigers coming into this season. After losing the first three games of the season (two against FBS opponents), the Tigers finally got back in the win column with a shut-out win over North American. Texas Southern’s first conference win came the following week in an upset of Southern.

Southern

Record: (2-3, 1-1 SWAC)

Grade: C

While the Jaguars are having a decent season, is not good enough considering they were penciled in as a contender to not only win the SWAC West but the conference. Southern, though, has lost two of its last three, including a stunner versus Texas Southern.

Grambling State 

Record: (2-4, 1-2 SWAC)

Grade: C-

After what was a disappointing spring season that saw Grambling State finish 0-4, the Tigers came into the fall to prove it was all a fluke. The Tigers began high note defeating Tennessee State in the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic. Unfortunately, Grambling State fell into a three-game slide before splitting contests against Alabama A&M and Alcorn State.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Record: (1-4, 0-3 SWAC)

Grade: F

No team has been more disappointing than Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Just five months removed from playing in the SWAC championship game, the Golden Lions have won just one game. The low point was surrendering a 19-point third quarter lead to Alcorn State en route to a 39-38 loss.



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