Previewing Southern vs. Jackson State in the 2022 SWAC football championship
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After a thrilling regular season, the 2022 SWAC Championship is here. SWAC East champion Jackson State hosts SWAC West champion Southern with a conference title and a Celebration Bowl berth on the line.
Jackson State enters the SWAC Championship undefeated at 11-0 for the first time in program history. The Tigers are the first undefeated SWAC team in the regular season since 1991 and the first SWAC team to go unbeaten and untied in the regular season since 1984.
Also, Jackson State has posted back-to-back undefeated seasons in SWAC conference play.
During its undefeated run, Jackson State’s offense has received most of the headlines, led by star quarterback Shedeur Sanders. However, the Tigers are no slouches on defense, owning the best scoring defense in the FCS at 10.09 points per game.
Southern is looking for redemption after losing to Jackson State during the regular season. The Jaguars enter the SWAC Championship on a two-game win streak, knocking off Grambling State in the Bayou Classic during its last outing. To win the rematch, Southern will need its defense, which leads the FCS with 43 sacks, to play well.
Jackson State has arguably the top backfield tandem in the FCS this year in quarterback Shedeur Sanders and running back Sy’Veon Wilkerson. Sanders is one of the best at his position in the FCS and a Walter Payton Award finalist, while Wilkerson is a 1,000-yard rusher. Buck Buchanan Award finalist Aubrey Miller leads the defense, with freshman sensation Travis Hunter continuing to emerge as a star.
Quarterback Besean McCray has continued his development as Southern’s starting quarterback, most recently leading the Jaguars to a win in the Bayou Classic. On defense, Southern’s front four can compete with anyone, as all of its starters are capable of wreaking havoc against one-on-one blocks. Elsewhere, defensive back Jordan Carter is one of the lead playmakers in the secondary, always making timely plays.
The 2022 SWAC Championship winner will not only win the conference, but it will also secure a berth in the 2022 Celebration Bowl to play North Carolina Central from the MEAC.
If Southern wins, it will make its first Celebration Bowl appearance ever. A win will end a two-game losing streak to Jackson State and give the Jaguars their first SWAC Championship since 2013.
If Jackson State wins, it will win back-to-back SWAC titles for the first time since 1995-96. The Tigers will trail Southern by one in all-time SWAC Championships. With a win, Jackson State will make its second straight Celebration Bowl, this time set on redemption after losing last year.
Stan Becton joined NCAA.com in 2021 and has since served as an FCS, track and field, cross country and HBCU beat reporter. He has covered numerous NCAA championship events, including the FCS Championship, DI Track & Field Championships and Men’s Frozen Four.