Saturday will mark the 33rd edition of the Southern Heritage Classic. This matchup could be the last time that the game is seen in its current form, pitting Tennessee State and Jackson State , particularly if Jackson State and the Southwestern Athletic Conference have their druthers.
Tenessee State comes into the the contest at 0-1, losing a hotly-contested game that came down to the last possession with the Big Sky’s Eastern Washington, 36-29. In that game Austin Peay transfer, quarterback Draylen Ellis went 17/27 for 257 yards two touchdowns and an interception.
Redshirt freshman Devon Sterling ran for 207 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Tennessee State leads the all-time series 17-11.
Jackson State enters into the contest fresh of their 59-3 decimation of FAMU that is still the talk of the HBCU football world. Shedeur Sanders was excellent against the Rattlers, completing his first 17 consecutive passes in going 29/33 for 323 yards and 5 touchdowns, Sanders spread the wealth, completing passes to 11 different receivers, with four of them( Dallas Daniels, Shane Hooks, Willie Gaines and Kevin Coleman Jr) recording at least 41 yards. The JSU offense was rather prolific, even without leading returning receiver Malachi Wideman. Aubrey Miller and the Jackson State defense limited Florida A&M to just 155 yards of total offense , forced four turnovers and scored on a pick-six by Ke’Vric Wiggins and a scoop-and-score by Mr. Miller.
What Tennessee State needs to do to win
Tennessee State will have to establish the run, something that will easier said than done, as Jackson State only surrendered 34 yards on the ground and just 1.2 yards per carry against FAMU on Sunday. Devon Starling should must n to only be featured on the offense, but must be effective. Establishing the run will allow them to control the clock and keep the potent JSU offense off the field, which will only help the Tennessee State defense, which was, to put it very kindly, was shaky against Eastern Washington. Draws, screen plays and misdirections should also be in the TSU plans, to use the aggressive pursuit of the Jackson State defense against them In the hopes of drawing out a more conservative JSU defense. TSU must slow the game down, because Jackson State possesses too many weapons and the offensive depth and attempting to engage in a shoot out will be a game that Tennessee State would find themselves unable to win.
What Jackon State needs to do to win:
The sheer amount of the talent JSU possesss on the offiesnvie side of the ball will overwhelm Tennessee State; it will be more holes than the TSU defense will be able to plug. Jackson State faces a TSU defense that was unable to solve the issue presented by a far less explosive and talented Eastern Washigton team, giving up 36 points. EWU signal caller Gunner Talkington faced little pressure from the Tiger defense, as he had all the time he needed to complete 29 of his 46 passes for 348 yards and 5 touchdowns. If Shedeur has that type of time, he will carve and light up the TSU defense, as their secondary routinely lost receivers in coverage, particularly on EWU’s go-ahead drive. If Tennesssee State repeats those mistakes, the rout will be on. Defensively, JSU has the defenders to make life hard, not only on the TSU “skill” positions but up front as well, which means they can bring the TSU offense to a halt.
Jackson State 38 Tennessee State 21