Forget the losing records (Grambling, 1-9; Southern, 3-7).
Dismiss the fact that neither team will be suiting up for the early December Southwestern Athletic Conference championship in Birmingham, Ala.
It’s Bayou Classic time for the Tigers and Jaguars and this weekend, that’s all that really matters.
“It’s like our bowl game,” said Head Coach Doug Williams of Grambling State. “It’s a cliché, but really, the records don’t mean a thing on the Saturday of Thanksgiving week for the fans of Grambling and Southern.
“This is where families on both sides don’t speak to each other, even if they’re in the same family. I’ve got a sister who will be pulling for Southern and mom won’t even allow her in the house for supper or dinner. She’s going to have to eat elsewhere this week.”
Williams offers the latter example of SWAC’s “Hatfield’s vs. McCoy’s” with a chuckle, but reaches that type of seriousness whenever these two longtime rivals collide on the Superdome turf.
“It’s all about bragging rights for Grambling and Southern fans this weekend,” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter that we’ve both been struggling this season. On Saturday, it’s like the season starts all over again.”
Grambling (0-8) and Southern (2-6) have a combined 2-14 record in the Western Division of the SWAC. The Tigers are in last place.
“But if you walk into the Superdome Saturday afternoon, you would think both of us are in the hunt for the championship,” Williams said. “Everybody always gets into the atmosphere and everything else that surrounds this game.
“And the players realize the whole nation will be watching, so they want to put on a great show and have their best game of the season.”
The 1:30 p.m. kickoff will have its traditionally national telecast aired by NBC.
And also part of the tradition is that both teams have an open date before meeting at the ‘Dome.
Grambling and Southern last played on Nov. 10. The Tigers lost to Western Division champ Arkansas-Pine Bluff 24-17 and the Jaguars were edged by Alabama State 31-30.
“The bye week is a good time for both teams to heal from injuries and rest up before the big week of the game,” Williams said. “Maybe in the future, I’d like to schedule a game the week before we play Southern, but right now it’s an open date.”
Overall, the G-Men are on a three-game losing streak and the Jags have lost their last four contests.
“For both teams, the Bayou Classic gives us a chance to salvage our season and go into next year with some confidence,” Williams said.