Jackson State’s Celebration Bowl loss shouldn’t mask historic season
Which begs the question: how did this happen? How Jackson State (11-2), with all of their Power-Five transfers, backed by a recruiting class among the nation’s top 60, and fresh out of sign the country’s n ° 1 rookie, allow the State of South Carolina (7-5) to spoil the return of Sanders, 31-10?
“The state of South Carolina kicked our ass,” Sanders said. “In all ways, in all ways. Outsmarted us. We were thrown out. Much more disciplined than us. And I feel like we were overconfident and overlooked them like they were just going to go. give us the game. “
SPORTS BULLETIN:Never miss a moment and sign up for daily updates
Make no mistake, Sanders hadn’t prepared his team. Jackson State’s racing game woes have resurfaced. And the defense has allowed 31 points for the first time this season.
But the takeaway from Saturday’s smackdown shouldn’t be that the Tigers fail in the biggest game of the year.
It should be that a Bowl Celebration Record 48,653 fans gathered in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium to see a pair of teams play that had never reached the de facto HBCU Championship.
Don’t let a historic Celebration Bowl loss – the most unbalanced in the game’s history in six years – overshadow a historically formidable season for this Jackson State team.
Eleven wins is a program record. Jackson State again beat all of their SWAC opponents. Travis Hunter, the nation’s No. 1 prospect, is still under contract with the Tigers. The spotlight is shining brighter on HBCU football than it has in a long time, and a lot of it has to do with Sanders and Jackson State.
Sanders has rejuvenated not just a football schedule, but a conference that is now scrambling to keep pace. He got the attention of the country’s mainstream media because he made Jackson State football one of the country’s most compelling stories.
In the college football version of David and Goliath, where the Power Five programs eclipse the FCS with enough wealth to buy coaches for $ 10 million and fans of those teams burn shirts when a rookie like Hunter decides to go. in another direction it’s Sanders and Jackson State with the stone firmly in hand.
A JSU program which, although historically underfunded compared to its SEC neighbors, produced four members of the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Want to go back to the glory days of Lem Barney and Walter Payton. Leading the FCS present for the past three seasons and still largely ignored by national media until the arrival of Sanders.
Getting to that game is a proud moment for Jackson State, which hadn’t won a SWAC title since 2007 before this season. Having Sanders at the helm is an achievement in itself.
But don’t twist it. Sanders is not satisfied. He doesn’t like to lose. And next year, with Hunter and another signing class announced, he can show the stench of Saturday as proof that the Tigers can’t overlook anything and end up champion.
“It has been a wonderful year, but I promise you that we will come back stronger, ready and prepared in prayer,” Sanders said. “State of South Carolina, God bless them. They kicked our asses and they deserve it.”
Tigers still historic
Jackson State football has won 11 games for the first time in program history this season. Match-by-match results:
- September 5: JSU 7, Florida A&M 6 (Miami Gardens, Florida)
- September 11th : JSU 38, State of Tennessee 16 (Memphis, Tennessee)
- September 18: Louisiane-Monroe 12, JSU 7
- *Seven. 25: JSU 24, Delta State 17
- October 9: JSU 61, Alabama A&M 15
- *Oct. 16: JSU 28, State of Alabama 7
- *Oct. 23: JSU 42, Béthune-Cookman 12
- October 30: JSU 28, MVSU 19
- *Nov. 6: JSU 41, South Texas 21
- November 13: JSU 21, South 17
- *Nov. 20: JSU 24, Alcorn State 10
- *Dec. 4: JSU 27, Prairie View A&M 10 (SWAC Championship)
- On Saturday: South Carolina State 31, JSU 10 (Celebration Bowl)
* indicates game played at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium