With help, Lions can clinch West Saturday


How good is Arkansas-Pine Bluff? Good enough to win the SWAC West Division football championship soon.

And it could be very soon, like this coming Saturday.

UAPB can clinch then by winning its next game against Texas Southern at Houston’s new BBVA Compass Stadium and have Alabama State defeat Prairie View A&M. If both occur, that will give the Golden Lions only their second division championship in school history and a three-game lead in the West with two games remaining.

Coach Monte Coleman said during Monday’s SWAC coaches’ teleconference he’s not thinking about the extra help.

“We’ve got one football game on our mind, that’s TSU,” Coleman said. “People are talking about it right now. I’m sure it’s crossed our minds, but we have three games left. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Right now, the Lions (6-2) have the best record in all of SWAC play at 5-1. Alabama State is tied with Alabama A&M for the Eastern Division lead at 5-2, but Alabama State is in control with the 31-13 head-to-head victory in this past Saturday’s Magic City Classic.

The division winners will meet in the SWAC championship game in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 8.

Following the Texas Southern game, UAPB will visit Grambling State and then host Prairie View in the regular-season finale. Neither of the Golden Lions’ remaining opponents is better than 3-3 in the SWAC, and Grambling — the favorite to repeat as West champion — is 0-6.

Texas Southern (2-6, 2-4 SWAC) is coming off a 23-20 home victory over Grambling in which the visiting Tigers were held to 30 yards rushing and the host Tigers had 223. Coleman is looking for the Lions to more success on the ground against Texas Southern, as they are coming off a 104-yard effort in a 10-0 win over Mississippi Valley State.

“We have to get back to doing some of the things we do well, and one of those things is running the football,” Coleman said.

Lions move up in Boxtorow poll

UAPB moved up one spot to fourth in the Boxtorow HBCU Media Top 10 poll.

The poll is one of two conducted by the national radio show “From the Press Box to Press Row.” In the Boxtorow FCS HBCU Coaches’ Poll, UAPB remains third behind Tennessee State and Bethune-Cookman.

Division II Winston-Salem State, Tennessee State and Bethume-Cookman are the top three in the media poll.

The Sheridan Broadcasting Network black college poll, which determines the black college national champion, was not updated as of Monday night. UAPB was ranked sixth in the previous SBN poll.

Prairie View’s offense takes off

Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow saw the score of Prairie View’s victory over Southern and noticed one thing about the Panthers.

“Prairie View is scoring a bunch of points,” he said.

As Barlow tries to keep his Hornets in first place in the East (and maybe help UAPB clinch the West), he could be in for a shootout with the Panthers. Prairie View hasn’t scored fewer than 31 points in its past three games, which are all victories after a 0-5 start, and is averaging 408.6 total yards per game.

Prairie View went for 645 yards against Southern in Saturday’s 49-29 win in Shreveport, La., a week after racking up 535 yards in a 52-37 win over Alcorn State. Prairie View quarterback De’Auntre Smiley threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 170 yards in the win and was named The Sports Network FCS National Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

Surprisingly, he did not garner the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week accolade. That went to Alabama State’s Greg Jenkins, who threw for 264 yards and a touchdown against Alabama A&M.