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The Sports Network
By Brandon Lawrence, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 2:30 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (65,000) - New Orleans, Louisiana. Surface: Artificial. Television: NBC. Annual: 40th Bayou Classic. Bayou Classic Record: Grambling State (20-19). Home record: Southern 3-2; Grambling State 1-4. Road record: Southern 4-2; Grambling State 0-4. Neutral record: Southern 0-0; Grambling State 0-2. Nicknames: Southern Jaguars; Grambling State Tigers. Southwestern Athletic Conference Record: Southern 6-2; Grambling State 1-7. Series record: Tied (30-30). Last meeting: November 24, 2012 (Southern, 38-33, at New Orleans, LA). Series Streak: Grambling State has won four of the last five meetings. Head Coaches: Southern - Dawson Odums (11-9 at Southern); Grambling State - Dennis Winston (1-2 at Grambling State). Sheridan Broadcasting Network Rankings: Southern (6); Grambling State (NR).
GAME NOTES: The XL Bayou Classic between these two Louisiana-based schools takes place at the home of the New Orleans Saints, which is appropriate, because college football in Louisiana will draw enough of a crowd to require such a large venue.
Southern will be playing in the SWAC championship game a week from Saturday against Jackson State, so this game against Grambling can either be looked at as a means for some practice - a primer before the championship game - or it can be seen as a potential for injury to some of Southern's players. The stage here is too big to consider the latter.
Grambling State, such a storied and marveled program, had some issues this season that went beyond football. Unfortunately, that's what this season will be remembered for - when players boycotted a bus trip to Jackson State that ended up costing the Grambling State athletic department $20,000 and a home game against Jackson State in each of the next three seasons.
There isn't much else looking past that. Grambling won one game this seson, though the Tigers could have made it two in a row when they took Texas Southern to overtime, and three in a row when they dropped the Nov. 9 regular season finale to Arkansas-Pine Bluff by three points.
The end of the emotional, like-to-forget season wasn't nearly as bad as the first few months. And it could all be made better with an upset win over the SWAC West Division champs.
But Southern isn't about to give up on this one to focus on the championship game. The Jaguars average 29.3 points per game - nearly 10 points more than Grambling State's 19.9 per-game average. Quarterback Dray Joseph has had a phenomenal year, passing for 3,010 yards and 24 touchdowns in the seven-win campaign. And Lenard Tillery can make teams pay on the ground, as the redshirt freshman back has scored eight times this season and gained over 600 rushing yards.
Grambling State's 38.4 points per game surrendered to opponents is a scary stat. Southern's opportunistic offense will be looking forward to taking the field Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern 38, Grambling State 27.
11/26 14:18:19 ET