When Arkansas-Pine Bluff suffered its first SWAC defeat of the season at Alabama A&M, coach Monte Coleman said, "We're not throwing the baby out of the bath water yet."
When Arkansas-Pine Bluff suffered its first SWAC defeat of the season at Alabama A&M, coach Monte Coleman said, “We’re not throwing the baby out of the bath water yet.”
The next week at Jackson State, he said: “We’re not circling the wagons.”
The Golden Lions have done neither, but they can no longer win the Western Division and make the SWAC championship game by themselves. As Coleman put it Monday: “We’ve got to let the other drivers drive their cars.”
Not only will the Lions (5-5, 4-4 SWAC) have to beat Texas Southern on Saturday at Golden Lion Stadium, but Alabama A&M will need to win at Prairie View that same day, and Southern will have to beat Grambling State in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 26.
That and other division-clinching scenarios were the main topic in the final SWAC coaches’ teleconference Monday. Even at 5-4 in the conference, UAPB can reach its second championship game if that scenario plays out because it will hold the tiebreaker of a better record within the division against three other teams who would have the same conference record. Southern is banned from the SWAC championship game this season.
“It is what it is,” Coleman said. “I’m not surprised we’re still in the race. I thought early on 5-4 would be the ticket that got you in.”
The winner of the Alabama A&M/Prairie View game will win its division, but if Prairie View — which UAPB defeated in Week 3 — loses, Grambling State will have the opportunity to clinch before an NBC audience.
Coleman was asked, since the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, if he could draw any comparisons between gearing Saturday’s game and NFL rivalry the former linebacker was a part from 1979-94.
“I think we’re a better team than the Redskins,” Coleman joked. “We’ve got to let the other drivers drive their cars.”
Speaking of driving …
UAPB will need better offensive drives than it organized in Saturday’s 15-3 win at Mississippi Valley State. The Lions ran as many as nine plays but covered no more than 36 yards on a drive, scoring only on two drives within the red zone off turnovers.
“The coaches and players, they understand the importance of putting points on the board,” Coleman said.
Coleman put some of the of the blame for the offensive struggles on the staggered suspensions of 25 players during the past three weeks. The SWAC levied the suspensions as a result of an Oct. 15 brawl after its victory over Southern.
“I get to have my entire team back,” Coleman said, adding a sigh of relief. “I’m very elated.”
Out of the Hornets’ control
Southern might not get to win the West, but it can sure play the role of spoiler.
Alabama State (7-3, 7-2) missed a chance to win the East on Saturday by losing at home to Southern 26-23 in its SWAC season finale. That set up an all-or-nothing showdown for Alabama A&M at Prairie View.
“It’s a great learning lesson,” Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow said. “When you’ve got it in front of you, you have to step up and perform. … I’m real frustrated because we had a chance to win that one.”
Meanwhile, Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones said he is “very thankful” to stay alive in the East. His Bulldogs missed out on clinching the division Saturday with a 34-6 home loss to Jackson State, but by beating Prairie View, his team would still own a head-to-head tiebreaker over its in-state rival. Jackson State also is banned from the championship game this season.
Eastern Division SWAC Overall
Alabama State 7-2 7-3
Jackson State 6-2 8-2
Alabama A&M 6-2 7-3
Alcorn State 1-7 2-7
Miss. Valley State 1-8 1-10
Western Division SWAC Overall
Grambling State 5-3 6-4
Prairie View A&M 5-3 5-5
UAPB 4-4 5-5
Southern 4-4 4-6
Texas Southern 2-6 4-6
Nov. 12 scores
Grambling State 29, Texas Southern 25
Prairie View A&M 40, Alcorn State 14
UAPB 15, Miss. Valley State 3
Southern 26, Alabama State 23
Jackson State 34, Alabama A&M 6
Nov. 19 games
Alcorn State at Jackson State, 1 p.m.
Alabama A&M at Prairie View A&M, 2 p.m.
Texas Southern at UAPB, 2:30 p.m.
Nov. 24 game
Tuskegee at Alabama State, 3 p.m.
Nov. 26 game
Southern vs. Grambling State, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.