Week 9 of the 2022 college football season is here and Halloween weekend will give us plenty of marquee matchups. Ohio State will head to Penn State at noon ET, Georgia will meet Florida in Jacksonville in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and Kentucky will meet Tennessee in a major SEC East showdown. Where the rest of the country zigs, we’ll zag.
Every week, we’ll go full hipster and point out an under-the-radar game that you should also be paying attention to on the schedule. For this week, we’ll go down to Jackson, MS, for a Classic rivalry game between two legacy programs in the SWAC. This game won’t be as under-the-radar with ESPN’s College Gameday paying a visit, but it’s still one worth tuning in for on Saturday.
Southern at Jackson State, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN3
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Spread: Jackson State -17.5
Moneyline: Jackson State -850, Southern +600
This week’s low-key matchup brings us to Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, MS, as the Jackson State Tigers host the Southern Jaguars in the Boombox Classic. This will be the 68th meeting between these two rivals as the programs have met every year since 1958, the year JSU joined the SWAC. SU holds a 37-30 all-time advantage in this competitive series as both schools have enjoyed stretches of success over the other at various points. Southern owned a series-record eight-game winning streak over JSU recently before the Tigers snapped it with a 21-17 victory in Baton Rouge, LA, last year.
As mentioned before, College Gameday will be coming live from JSU on Saturday, marking just the second time the traveling show has visited an HBCU campus. Much of the attention will most likely be focused on Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, who is setting himself up for a potential Power Five job this offseason. However, the game itself should be explosive.
Jackson State (7-0, 4-0 SWAC) currently sits atop the SWAC East division standings and is ranked No. 9 in this week’s FCS polls. The Tigers would potentially be a threat to do damage in the upcoming FCS Playoffs, but Sanders has been adamant about his team participating in the more lucrative Celebration Bowl should his team win the conference title.
Coach Prime’s son Shadeur Sanders has been operating the controls for the offense once again and is a strong candidate to win the Walter Payton Award. He enters this game having completed 73.6% of his passes for 2,231 yards, 23 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He has been aided by the receiver triumvirate of Dallas Daniels, Shane Hooks, and Willie Gaines, who have combined for 15 receiving touchdowns this season. Defensively, linebacker Nyles Gaddy is the one to watch out for, as he has five sacks and a forced fumble heading into this matchup.
Not trying to be outshined here is Southern (5-2, 3-1 SWAC), who will be bringing an army of fans and their world famous “Human Jukebox” band across state lines to spoil JSU’s special weekend. After back-to-back blowout losses to LSU and Texas Southern earlier in the season, the Jaguars have rattled off four straight victories to take control at the top of the SWAC West division standings heading into this matchup.
JuCo transfer quarterback Besean McCray has taken full command of the SU offense in his first season in Baton Rouge. He has thrown for 1,304 passing yards, ran for 411 rushing yards, and has accounted for 17 total touchdowns heading into Saturday’s showdown. Defensively, the aforementioned JSU receivers will have a challenge going up against former Kansas defensive back Corione Harris, who has 34 tackles and three interceptions in his first season with Southern.
On paper, this game should be a fireworks show with both teams boasting top 10 scoring offenses in FCS. However, Jackson State is giving up a nation-low 10.14 points per game, so the Southern offense will have its work cut out for them. If you have an ESPN3 login, I’d suggest pulling this game up in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday.