Courtesy: Antonio Morales, Clarion Ledger
Only three months stand between now and the start of the college football season for the SWAC.
Jackson State will be the first conference team to strap up the pads when it hits the road to face UNLV on Sept. 1.
With football season getting closer and closer, The Clarion-Ledger has decided to take a look at the 10 most intriguing SWAC conference games coming up this fall.
1. Alcorn State at Grambling, Sept. 24: Defending SWAC champion Alcorn State lost coach Jay Hopson, and conference runner-up Grambling lost quarterback Johnathan Williams, who was the conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2015. Despite the losses, these two programs will likely be projected to be in the SWAC title game in December, so this game could serve as an early preview.
2. Prairie View A&M vs. Grambling, at Dallas, Oct. 1: In terms of offensive fireworks, the State Fair Classic provided plenty when the Tigers beat the Panthers 70-54 last season. It could be more of the same this season if Prairie View A&M, which went 8-2 last season, finds a replacement for standout running back Johnta' Hebert.
3. Alabama State at Alcorn State, Sept. 10: Brian Jenkins guided the Hornets to a second-place finish in the SWAC East in his first season last year. If the Hornets want to win the division this season, it'll probably need to notch a road win in Lorman against Alcorn State in its home opener.
4. Grambling vs. Southern, at New Orleans, Nov. 26: Grambling snapped its three-game losing streak in the Bayou Classic with a win against Southern last season. The Tigers ended the Jaguars' two-year run atop the West Division and will try to win their second consecutive division title this fall.
5. Jackson State at Alcorn State, Nov. 19: Jackson State has been down the past two seasons but has still given rival Alcorn State, which has won back-to-back SWAC titles, fits. This will also be the first matchup between the two schools while under the leadership of their new coaches, Tony Hughes and Fred McNair.
6. Southern at Prairie View A&M, Nov. 12: Willie Simmons' earned his first big conference win as the Panthers' coach with a 47-42 road win at Southern in 2015. The Jaguars' defense struggled in that game and in losses to Alcorn State and Grambling, which led to the firing of three defensive coaches at the end of the season.
7. Grambling at Jackson State, Sept. 17: Hughes will ultimately be judged on his ability to bring SWAC titles to JSU. His first game, which also serves as the Tigers' home opener, against a conference opponent will provide quite the test.
8. Southern at Jackson State, Oct. 15: The feelings between these two fan bases always makes it one of the more intriguing contests in the SWAC. JSU offensive coordinator Chad Germany coaching against his former team adds a bit of interest to the game as well.
9. Texas Southern at Prairie View A&M, Sept. 4: The Labor Day Classic will be the first game of Michael Haywood's tenure as Texas Southern's coach and the debut of PVAMU’s new football stadium.
10. Alabama State vs. Alabama A&M, at Birmingham, Oct. 29: Bulldogs coach James Spady could use a win in the Magic City Classic after posting a 7-16 record in his first two seasons at the helm at Alabama A&M.