— The only scoreboard Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow wants his players to watch on Saturday is the one involving the Hornets in their game at Southern. But ASU's chances of playing for the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship will also depend on the final score of Alabama A&M's game at Jackson State that same day.
ASU, A&M and Jackson State are all still eligible to win the SWAC's East Division title, and none of them can do it Saturday without help in the other game. ASU and A&M are tied for first place with 6-2 division records, while JSU is 5-2 with a final conference game to play next week.
So while none of the three is in with a win Saturday, each is out with a loss. That is why Barlow said he stressed to his team to concentrate only on ASU's game against Southern and to not worry about what is taking place in Mississippi.
"It will be hard not to wonder what's going on, but those are the things we talk about removing," Barlow said. "It's mental clutter. Things that you have no control over.
"So we'll make sure we keep them focused on our game, and whatever happens over there on the other side will be what it is. When you get to thinking about things that have nothing to do with what's taking place on the field and you're thinking about all the 'what-ifs,' then you lose."
ASU beat A&M earlier this season and lost to JSU. If the Hornets win Saturday and A&M defeats Jackson State, then ASU and A&M will both finish 7-2 in conference play and the Hornets will win the division based on the head-to-head tiebreaker. If ASU loses and A&M wins, then the Bulldogs will win the division outright.