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Jackson State's Dominance in the SWAC

Jackson State's dominance may only be conquered by Jackson State within the SWAC.

HOUSTON, TX - Jackson State's theme for 2022 is to "DOMINATE!" Coach Deion Sanders proclaimed during the offseason that this was how his No. 11-ranked Jackson State team would perform -- and, thus far, he hasn't been wrong. 

Jackson State coach Deion Sanders works the game against Grambling State during an NCAA college football game in Jackson, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. Tcl Grambling Jackson State

So why is it after three weeks of HBCU football that Jackson State is seizing control of the SWAC? 

Coach Prime's team leads in 15 central team statistical categories of offense. defense, and even special teams. 

Although high in the SWAC, one area of concern nationally would be 3rd-down conversions at a 42.5% rate.  Comparatively, the MEAC's North Carolina Central football team is ranked No. 2 in the FCS at 69.8% success rate. If the season were to end today, the Tigers would face the Eagles in the Celebration Bowl. 

This stat would be a challenging element for both teams' defenses.

Shedeur Sanders

STATISTICALLY DOMINANT

The Tigers' SWAC statistical rankings through 3 games:

  • No. 1 total offenses (499.0 yards/gm)
  • No. 1 scoring offense (47.0 pts/gm)
  • No. 1 passing offense (86/118 passes, 72.9%, 1021 yards, 11 TD, 340.3 yards/gm)
  • No. 1 offensive efficiency (176.3)
  • No. 1 total defense (175.0 yards/gm)
  • No. 1 offensive first downs (27.7 1st downs/gm)
  • No. 1 third down conversions (42.5%)
  • No. 1 scoring defense (10 pts/gm)
  • No. 1 passing defense (127.7 yards/gm)
  • No. 1 defensive efficiency (68.7)
  • No. 1 defensive first downs (12.0 1st downs/gm)
  • No. 1 3rd down conversions (20.9%)
  • No. 1 defensive sacks (14 for 122 yards)
  • No. 1 kickoffs (26 for 1,627 yards)
  • T-No. 1 PAT (18-18, 100%)
  • No. 3 defensive interceptions (4 for 41 yards)
Jackson State linebacker Daelyn Dunn (44) causes Grambling running back Keilon Elder (23) to fumble during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Jackson, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. Jackson State won 66-24. Tcl Grambling Jackson State

The Tigers' FCS statistical rankings through 3 games: 

  • T-No. 2 defensive touchdowns (2)
  • No. 2 passing yards allowed (127.7 yards/gm)
  • No. 4 scoring offense (47.0 pts/gm)
  • No. 4 scoring defense (10 pts/gm)
  • No. 7 passing offense (340.3 yards/gm)

The numbers don't lie about Jackson State. Their performance has been in the upper echelon of FCS football.

CONFIDENCE=DOMINANCE

As reporters swarmed Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter at SWAC Media Day, the players repeatedly echoed their coach's proclamation -- "dominate."  

It may be too early to call, especially after playing less than a third of the 2022 schedule, but it begs the question. Who could stop Jackson State from running the table in the SWAC? CBS analyst Emory Hunt spoke about the same topic with Chip Patterson on the Cover3 Podcast. 

Hunt shared that a MEAC team "may be the only test I see for Jackson State because again, they're going go undefeated. Which means they're going to win the SWAC and not be able to make the playoffs because they're going to have to go to the Celebration Bowl."

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I agree with the Czar of the Playbook on his analysis. Once again, the Jackson State Tigers are unstoppable and have an improved offensive and defensive line to back up the claims. Should safety Shilo Sanders return and defensive back Travis Hunter regains his ankle's health, the secondary has an opportunity to elevate from excellent to elite. Shilo may take a bit longer after repairing his ACL.

OVERCONFIDENCE=TROUBLE

Last year, the Tigers ran the table, won the SWAC, celebrated too early, were overconfident, and were soundly defeated by South Carolina State in the Celebration Bowl. The old ball coach Buddy Pough knows how to coach NFL-level talent with guys like Shaquille Darius Leonard and Decobie Durant as his disciples.  

No team is invincible. A good coach with an intelligent game plan and players ready to listen, learn and execute should have a fighting chance to conquer the Big Dawgs of the SWAC.

Coach Sanders won't make the same mistake twice. He and his staff will ready the team should they earn a berth to Atlanta in December for a second attempt at hoisting the Celebration Bowl Trophy. Most of all, to be recognized as the 2022 HBCU Football Champions.

HOW TO STOP THEM???

Tough defensive play can stymie a Tigers offense - ask Tennessee State. Comparatively, at least two touchdowns were left off the board due to a pair of Jackson State fumbles near the goal lines. 

The offense isn't the unit to concern opponents as much as the Tigers' defense. They allowed 20 of the 27 Grambling points scored on Saturday. Altogether, they have baffled the opposition and limited them to 8.7 points per contest on the year.

Offensively, Jackson State put down any claims from Florida A&M and Grambling State to rest.  

So who could realistically challenge Coach Prime's ferocious Tigers squad?

SWAC GAMES TO WATCH VS JACKSON STATE

The unusual suspects would be Texas Southern, Prairie View, Alabama State, and Alcorn State.  

Bubba McDowell
  1. Alabama State Hornets will host the JSU Tigers on Oct. 8.
  2. Jackson State will travel to Houston and clash with TSU on Nov. 5.
  3. Coach Prime and Coach McNair will square off on The Reservation at Alcorn State for a Nov. 19 season finale.
  4. 2022 SWAC Championship: Should JSU earn a berth to the postseason 2022 SWAC title game, could they revive a battle with Prairie View, or will it be Grambling, UAPB, or Southern?

Nevertheless, at the moment and barring significant injuries, it isn't easy to count against Jackson State to repeat as the SWAC East division champions. Stranger things can happen.

We shall see.