(STATS) – Try, try again, says the SWAC.
Its teams have not beaten an FBS opponent since Grambling State knocked off Oregon State 23-6 in 1985 in Shreveport, Louisiana – a victory which allowed Tigers legendary coach Eddie Robinson to tie Paul “Bear” Bryant as college football’s winningest coach.
SWAC teams are involved in 14 FBS games this year, tying the Big Sky and the MEAC for the most among FCS conferences.
FCS programs earned nine wins last season, and as they seek to make their mark again in this year’s 111 matchups, here’s a look at the ones involving SWAC teams:
The Matchups (14) – Alabama A&M: Cincinnati (Sept. 15); Alabama State: Auburn (Sept. 8) and South Alabama (Oct. 13); Alcorn State: Georgia Tech (Sept. 1) and New Mexico State (Nov. 3); Arkansas-Pine Bluff: FIU (Sept. 29); Grambling State: Louisiana-Lafayette (Sept. 1); Jackson State: Southern Miss (Sept. 1); Prairie View A&M: Rice (Aug. 25) and UNLV (Sept. 15); Southern: TCU (Sept. 1) and Louisiana Tech (Sept. 8); Texas Southern: Texas State (Sept. 8) and Houston (Sept. 22
Glamour Game – Alabama State at Auburn (Sept. 8). This is strictly a paycheck for the Hornets, whose last venture into the SEC was a 48-14 loss to Kentucky in 2013. The following month, they stand a much better chance against South Alabama. Both are first-time matchups.
Upset Alert – Alcorn State at New Mexico State (Nov. 3). Like Alabama State, Alcorn State has a better shot in its second FBS game. The Braves have finished first in the SWAC East Division for fourth straight years, while New Mexico State’s 7-6 record last year was its first winning season since 2002. New Mexico State won the lone previous meeting in 2008.
Notable – Mississippi Valley State is the only SWAC member that won’t play an FBS program. … Prairie View A&M first-year coach Eric Dooley gets an early jump on his SWAC brethren as the Panthers’ game against Rice occurs in Week Zero. There were plenty of offensive fireworks in their 2016 game – a 65-44 Rice win. … Can we buy a vowel? UAPB at FIU is a first-time matchup. … Separated by less than 185 miles in the Pelican State, Grambling State and Louisiana-Lafayette are facing off for the first time. … Having not played an FBS opponent since 2012, Texas Southern comes back with two in Texas State and Houston. … Southern is playing only 10 regular-games this season – one below the usual maximum – and two are against FBS opponents (TCU in a first-time meeting and Louisiana Tech). … Alabama A&M lost its only previous game against Cincinnati in 2015, while Jackson State dropped its two matchups versus Southern Miss (1987 and 2002).