It was an interesting week of ups and downs for fans of Mississippi football. While some teams were able to climb out of a rut, others fell deeper in.
On Saturday, Oct. 28, a winless Jackson State University faced an early 0-3 deficit against Mississippi Valley State University after the first quarter before jumping out to a 10-3 lead at the break—a rarity for JSU this season.
Jackson State added to its lead with a touchdown in the third quarter for a commanding 17-3 lead. MVSU got two points after a Tigers snap went through the end zone for a safety in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers sealed their first victory of 2017 with a late touchdown to win 24-5. During the game, JSU amassed 251 rushing yards out of 331 total and held MVSU to just 105 total yards.
Now that Jackson State has won a game this season, that leaves Mississippi College as the only team in our state without a win. This Saturday, Nov. 4, 0-8 MC will host 0-9 Shorter University in a game that guarantees to give one team its first victory this season.
Meanwhile, the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles laid an egg in their midseason game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. USM took a 12-7 lead into halftime but failed to score in the second half, as UAB scored 23 unanswered points.
Southern Miss blew an opportunity to become bowl eligible by losing 12-30 to the Blazers, but it will get another chance to get the six necessary wins on Nov. 4 against the University of Tennessee. However, it is highly unlikely to happen this week against the Volunteers.
The Golden Eagles still have two excellent chances to get bowl eligible over the next two weeks. USM travels to 1-7 Rice University on Nov. 11 before hosting the 1-7 University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Nov. 18. USM needs to take advantage of the scheduling and win against both teams to help its bowl standing.
Speaking of laying an egg in the second half, the University of Mississippi, at one point last Saturday, had a 31-7 lead against the University of Arkansas in the first half. The Razorbacks scored two late touchdowns before the break to cut the Rebels lead to 31-21.
Arkansas then outscored UM 17-6 in the second half and got a game-winning, last-second field goal for a 38-37 win. The win kept Arkansas’ bowl hopes alive and added another tough moment onto the Rebels’ already-rough season.
Mississippi State University went on the road and beat up on Texas A&M University last Saturday. The Bulldogs’ 35-14 victory over the Aggies gave them the six wins needed to reach bowl eligibility. Thanks to that win, MSU is now 21st in the AP Top 25 Poll and 22nd in the Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, and MSU will also stretch its school-record bowl streak to eight consecutive appearances.
The Bulldogs can improve their bowl standing over the rest of the season, though. They will host the University of Massachusetts on Nov. 4 in what should be their seventh win of the season. MSU will follow that with a home game against the University of Alabama on Nov. 11, which will more than likely be a loss.
The Bulldogs will finish the season against at the Razorbacks on Nov. 18 before hosting the Rebels in the Egg Bowl on Nov. 23. MSU will have a chance to win both games to finish with nine wins for the season and go to a good bowl game.
Alcorn State University can just about wrap up the SWAC East Division this weekend if it can score a win over Alabama A&M University on Nov. 4. The Braves are currently 4-1 in conference play, which is one game ahead of second-place Alabama A&M and Alabama State University.
A win would move the Braves to 5-1, with two conference games left to play against Jackson State and Mississippi Valley. Alcorn State would also own the head-to-head tiebreaker over both Alabama SWAC schools.
Jackson State can help their rival by defeating Alabama A&M to give the Braves the East title. If the Tigers lose, Grambling State could still give the Braves the title the next week with a win over Alabama A&M.