Alcorn State, Jackson State clash in Soul Bowl battle

Alcorn State coach Fred McNair
Alcorn State coach Fred McNair Associated Press

The rivalry between Alcorn State and Jackson State goes beyond the SWAC standings.

The Braves (4-5 overall, 4-4 SWAC) host Jackson State (4-6, 3-5) in their Soul Bowl battle at 2 p.m. Saturday at Spinks-Casem Stadium in Lorman.

Alcorn has already clinched its third straight Eastern Division title, advancing to the SWAC Championship game against Southern University or Grambling on Dec. 3 at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

“Our team knows the magnitude of the game and we have to make sure we're doing all the right things,” Braves coach Fred McNair said in a SWAC Teleconference call. “It’s a big rivalry for us.”

The contest was called the Capital City Classic from 1994-2012 and played at Jackson’s Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium until Alcorn officials exercised its right to host, making the rivalry a home-and-home series since 2012. Jackson State won 13 of 19 games during that stretch.

The quarterback battle takes centerstage. Jackson State is led by Jarin Morikawa Alcorn could start freshman Noah Johnson, who accounted for eight touchdowns as the Braves routed Mississippi Valley State 61-7. Lenorris Footman, the team’s opening day starter, continues to recover from an ankle injury.

“We'll have our hands full,” Jackson State coach Tony Hughes said. “They’re very athletic, play well, hard-nosed, tough and play with a lot of confidence and swagger. Our biggest challenge will be to stop their running game. They’re pretty good at throwing too.”

Mississippi Valley State at Southern U., 4 p.m.: The Delta Devils (1-9, 1-7) will be hard-pressed to win their season finale at A.W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Southern (7-2, 7-0) has several reasons to take the Delta Devils’ contest seriously. The Jaguars need a win to stay alive for the West Division championship and SWAC title game berth. Southern is also honoring its Senior football players on Homecoming, a week before the Bayou Classic against Grambling.

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones