Preview: South Alabama vs Texas State – Claws Out

November 14, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference 

Jags_vs_TexasStateSouth Alabama enters Saturday night’s game against Texas State backed into a corner. And when you back a wounded animal into a corner, they become very dangerous.

The Jags know they need this game most of all, it will put them at six wins on the season and get them bowl eligible for the second consecutive season. But it could very well be for an actual bowl slot. You might as well call this a ‘winner take bowl’ game.

Beginning this season, the Sun Belt Conference has automatic ties with three bowl games up from the two bowl tie-in’s they had in previous seasons. The addition of the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery is to thank for that. Georgia Southern is one win away from an undefeated SBC record, but they are ineligible to go to a bowl game barring there not being enough bowl eligible teams to fill all the bowl slots. I have not gone back through all of the caveats to that rule change, but if memory serves me right, they would be among the top choices to fill a slot.

Louisiana-Lafayette, also currently undefeated in conference play, could still get a share of SBC title if they win out. But it’s pretty much a lock that, if they keep playing at the level that they have the past couple of weeks, Lafayette and Arkansas State are going to be the top two teams filling the New Orleans and GoDaddy bowl slots. Which leaves South Alabama and Texas State fighting for that last slot.

This is the Jaguars final conference game while Texas State still has two more after the Jaguars. The Bobcats will face a red hot Arkansas State team, where they will be underdogs, and then wrap up the season against Georgia State where they will be favored (has GaSt been favored in any game this year??). If the bobcats only win at Georgia State (which they should) then USA and TXST will have the same record, but (not so fast) USA will hold the tiebreaker due to winning the head-to-head match-up.

Over recent weeks the Jaguars have been been beat up. Last week they had eight starters out against Arkansas State and it showed. They have lost Jay Jones and most recently Marvin Shinn to season ending injuries.

The big question is: “Have they been able to mend their wounds enough to win this week?” and “Have the reserves stepped up their game to fill those empty cleats?”

 

So after all that, what does South Alabama need to do to win?


They have to run the ball effectively. In their five wins this season they have rushed for over 150 in each game. Also in their four SBC wins they have rushed for over 200 yards. It’s paramount that they rush the ball well and take pressure off of the quarterback, who will most likely be Brandon Bridge if at all possible.

Offensive execution. The Jags are last in the conference in third down conversions (33%), fourth down conversions (10%), and red zone offense (72%). Though their defense is ranked second in the conference in scoring (23.4 ppg), third in pass defense (201.3 ypg), and fourth in total defense (377.3 ypg) they cannot carry the whole team. The offense must convert third downs and score points to give the defense some time to rest.

Protect the ball. Last week the Jaguars turned the ball over four times. In their four losses they have 11 turnovers. However in their five wins they have only two turnovers. The Jags must protect the ball to win, it’s as simple as that.

One thing in the Jaguars favor is Texas State has some undersized and slow defensive lineman. If the Jaguar offensive line is back to near full strength, that should help the running game and pass protection. But the bobcats have also had problems against teams when they go no-huddle. Illinois took advantage of it and New Mexico State had success late in the game, but the bobcats were able to hold the Aggies off at the end.

College Football Sword of Omens

Deluxe-Sword-of-Omens_a (1)

A reddit user researched back and found the first college football game between schools with feline mascots. The winner then was “awarded” the “Sword of Omens” which they symbolize as a sword from Thundercats, one of the inspirations for this very site actually. That first game was on November 11th, 1874 between the Princeton Tigers and the Columbia Lions. Princeton won and began the line.

To give you some back story on this, The Sword of Omens from the Thundercats animated series is a legendary sword wielded by the ThunderCats Lord. The blade can extend or retract, like feline claws, and is near indestructible. It is extremely strong, durable and laser-sharp and is able to slice through hardened materials with relative ease. It’s power comes from the Eye of Thundera, which is embedded in the hilt and is the source of the ThunderCats’ power. When in danger, the wielder can summon the other ThunderCats by shooting the symbol of the Eye of Thundera into the sky and by shouting the battle cry, “Thunder, Thunder, Thunder….ThunderCats -HO!”.

Starting with Princeton, each time it faced a school with a feline mascot it was a “Sword of Omens” battle. If the team possessing the title or “sword” it was considered a defense until the next time they faced a feline team. Since 1874 it has changed hands 36 times, until it came to rest in Texas State’s hands on September 1, 2012 when they defeated the Houston Cougars.

The bobcats have successfully defended it four times, including last season against the Jaguars. Saturday will mark another battle for the Sword of Omens. There have been 17 different schools that have possessed the Sword of Omens.

South Alabama could add their name to that list Saturday night on their home field.

Go Jags! Bleed It Red!

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