BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Southern University defense gave up 410 yards on the ground to Alcorn State in a 56-16 thumping earlier in the season, but the Jaguars are looking for a different outcome when they face the Braves in the SWAC championship game.
"We're not the football team that we will be once we get into the month of October," head coach Dawson Odums said on Sept. 27, 2014. "We've got a long season to go."
"Right now, after this loss, we're just hoping we get a chance to get to play them again," sophomore running back Lenard Tillery added that same night. "Get our revenge."
Almost everything the pair said following the loss to the Braves has come to pass. All that's left is the revenge. It is certainly not the same team that took the field a little more than two months ago and to bounce back from that defeat with seven straight victories says a lot about the character of the 2014 Jaguars.
"They've been able to stay together, stay humble and we reached our final destination," Odums said Tuesday.
"We've never doubted for a second that we'd make it back to the championship 'cause we're confident in our abilities," said senior offensive lineman Zac Brown. "We had an off game and we think we're going to come back [and] be prepared this game."
However, even on a seven-game winning streak, the Jaguars said they remain grounded and there's nothing more humbling than looking at the 56-16 outcome the last time they met the Braves.
"That's why it's pretty embarrassing," said senior linebacker Brian McCain. "Anytime a team puts up 56 points on you, knowing that you're better than the 56 points they put up on you."
"I think we're a different football team now. I think we're playing different. I think our confidence is different. But, we're still getting ready to take on a very good football team. Now, it's about, 'Are you going to allow them to do that again?' And, you've got to get ready to go play," Odums explained.
One immediate advantage Southern has is the experience of already succeeding on the big stage in this year's highest scoring Bayou Classic in history.
"I really like coming out of a big game going into another big game," Odums added.
"With this one being our last game, it's just … do everything that we've been doing for the previous seven weeks and hopefully everything works out in our favor," McCain stated.
"I think that that does help, being on a winning streak 'cause it shows you that you haven't let anything set you back down since you started your wins," Brown added.
"I think we got hot at the right time. I think you have to be playing your best football at the end of the year if you want a chance to do great things," Odums said.
It will be Southern's fifth appearance in the SWAC championship game. The Jags have a 3-1 record in their previous four, with the only loss coming in 2004 to Alabama State.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Houston. The game will be televised on ESPNU.