2016 SWAC Championship Game Preview

Some people might argue the SWAC championship game took place last week when http://www.espn.com/ncf/recap/_/id/400873840">Grambling State University crushed Southern University 52-30 to win the west division. Both teams http://www.espn.com/college-football/standings/_/view/fcs/group/31">entered the contest undefeated in conference play, and the winner earned a spot in the title game Saturday, Dec. 3.

Grambling State http://www.espn.com/college-football/team/schedule/_/id/2755">ran roughshod over the SWAC this season, winning by an average of 38 points in conference games. The Tigers steamroll of the conference included two shutouts, and they only gave up 21 or more points twice.

Alcorn State University http://www.espn.com/college-football/team/schedule/_/id/2016">won its final two games of the season against Mississippi Valley State University and Jackson State University to win the east division. The Braves now have http://www.swac.org/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&ATCLID=211330553">three consecutive east titles and are looking to become the first team since Grambling State from 1999-2001 to win three SWAC championships in a row.

In last year’s title game, http://www.espn.com/ncf/recap/_/id/400852674">Alcorn State beat up Grambling State, winning 49-21. ASU http://www.swac.org/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&ATCLID=211330553">set championship records for points (49), rushing yards (411) and total offense (613). The Braves are the only team with multiple championship-game appearances without a loss.

Grambling State is playing in its ninth championship game and owns an http://www.swac.org/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&ATCLID=211330553">8-2 record in its previous trips. The Tigers are 5-0 against SWAC teams from Alabama but just 1-2 against SWAC teams from Mississippi.

When Alcorn State traveled to Grambling State during the regular season, the http://www.espn.com/ncf/recap/_/id/400873119">Tigers routed the Braves 43-18. GSU rolled up http://www.espn.com/college-football/matchup?gameId=400873119">534 yards total offense with 400 yards coming through the air.

Former University of Mississippi quarterback http://www.espn.com/college-football/boxscore?gameId=400873119">DeVante Kincade leads GSU on offense. He threw for five touchdowns against the Braves in that regular-season meeting.

Interestingly, both teams scored a safety in that game. Alcorn State held an http://www.espn.com/college-football/game?gameId=400873119">8-7 lead in the first quarter before Grambling State recorded a safety in the second quarter and never gave up the lead again.

The championship game will feature a battle between two of the top offenses in the SWAC. http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">Grambling State is first in total offense (507.6 yards per game), scoring offense (44 points per game) and passing offense (300.3 yards per game). The Tigers are also fourth in rushing offense with 207.3 yards per game.

http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">Alcorn State is fourth in scoring offense (31.3 points per game), third in total offense (417.9 yards per game), second in rushing offense (217.8 yards per game) and seventh in passing offense (200.1 yards per game).

It is on http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">defense where Grambling State separates itself from the rest of the conference. The Tigers top in the conference in total defense (allowing 323.6 yards per game), scoring defense (allowing 16.4 points per game) and rushing defense (allowing 120.9 yards per game. GSU is also second in passing defense, giving up just 202.7 yards per game.

http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">ASU is third in total defense (allowing 391.7 yards per game), sixth in scoring defense (allowing 29.2 points per game), third in rush defense (allowing 160.4 yards per game) and sixth in passing defense (allowing 231.2 yards per game).

Both teams have http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">recorded 10 interceptions, with the Tigers returning two for touchdowns, and the Braves returning one for a score. These two defenses are also good at getting to the quarterback. The Tigers have 32 sacks, the second best in the SWAC, and the Braves have 30 sacks, which is good for third in the conference.

One advantage for http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">Alcorn State is in its pass protection. The Braves have only given up a SWAC-best nine sacks all season long, whereas Grambling State has given up 24 sacks.

Grambling State is plus-3 in http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">the turnover margin compared to Alcorn State’s minus-7. The Braves have lost 14 fumbles and thrown 10 interceptions, while forcing just seven fumbles and picking off 10 passes. The Tigers have thrown six interceptions and lost 14 fumbles, forcing 13 fumbles and recording 10 interceptions.

The Braves have the http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">advantage in kickoff returns having gained 21.3 yards per return, which is the second best in the conference. GSU is ninth in kickoff returns with 17.3 yards per kickoff return.

ASU also has a http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">slight edge in punting with an average of 34 yards per punt compared to GSU’s average of 32.7 yards per punt. Neither team is stellar at returning punts; the Tigers gained just 12.1 yards per punt, and the Braves gained 7.9 yards a return.

Grambling State has the http://www.swac.org//ViewContent.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27400&CONTENT_ID=1878184">advantage in kicking field goals and extra points, as well, having made four of seven field-goal attempts and 58 of 61 extra-point attempts. ASU made just three of eight field-goal attempts and 36 of 42 extra-points. The Braves are dead last in field-goal and extra-point percentage.

Alcorn State got two weeks to rest for this game since Grambling State played last weekend and the Braves were off. That extra rest should help ASU look a bit healthier for the championship throwdown.

The Braves are going to have to play their best game of the season to win. Grambling State has been head and shoulders above the rest of the SWAC, so Alcorn State might need the Tigers to beat themselves with turnovers.

The winner of this matchup will face http://theundefeated.com/features/big-n-c-central-win-puts-eagles-in-air-force-reserve-celebration-bowl/">North Carolina Central University in the 2016 Celebration Bowl.

It feels like the SWAC title game will be a blowout in favor of Grambling State. Look for the Tigers to roll over the Braves 45-23.


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