Going into this season Jackson State was pegged by several to be a juggernaut. Landing the number one overall recruit in the country paired with the explosiveness we saw last fall had many believing that the #15 Tigers would be the top dog in the HBCU races this fall. On Sunday, though, JSU made it clear that they’re something even beyond that.
The Tigers dismantled Florida A&M in the annual Orange Blossom Classic. It was not shades of the 7-6 defensive battle that Jackson State had prevailed in a year ago. No, this game was an offensive and defensive clinic put on by Deion Sanders’ team. Travis Hunter is as advertised. Shedeur Sanders is leaps and bounds beyond what he was as a freshman last year. Everything about this squad is lethal and they made that quite clear on Sunday.
Shedeur Sanders got off to a sensational start, completing his first 17 pass attempts. On JSU’s opening drive he guided his offense 69 yards in 12 plays and capped it with his his first of five touchdowns of the day. He found Shane Hooks for an eight-yard score to put Jackson State up 7-0.
From there the Tigers defense took over. The Rattlers, who put up a gutsy performance last weekend against North Carolina, looked shaken on offense for much of the game. They punted away five times in a row before finally adding a field goal which proved to be their only points of the afternoon.
While JSU’s defense was shining, so too was Shedeur and the offense. He surgically cut his way through the FAMU defense and used both his legs and arm to lead his team to a big 24-3 lead at the break. For a stretch there he simply couldn’t miss and when halftime rolled around, he already had three touchdowns to his credit.
The bad day only got worse for the Rattlers in the second half. Shedeur led another scoring drive to open the third quarter and then shortly after FAMU quarterback Jeremy Moussa was picked off by Kev’Ric Wiggins who went untouched into the end zone. In what felt like a flash, Jackson State was up 38-3.
PICK 6️⃣‼️— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 4, 2022
The Jackson State defense showing out for Coach Prime. pic.twitter.com/WNX5cVR5oq
From there, JSU poured it on with more touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. Every phase of the game was dominant and by the time the fourth came around, the backups were called in to finish it off. The Tigers cruised out to a resounding 59-3 win that left onlookers in awe.
Shedeur was tremendous, completing 29 of his 33 pass attempts for 323 yards and five touchdowns. Hunter, making his collegiate debut, notched a PBU in the opening quarter that nearly led to an interception. Running back Santee Marshall carried the ball 13 times for 65 yards.
On a day where everything went right for Jackson State, nothing did for Willie Simmons’ FAMU bunch. Moussa barely eclipsed the 100-yard passing mark and was picked off twice. In total the Rattlers offense turned the ball over four times and put up a measly 155 total yards. They also surrendered a blocked punt that went for six.
If Sunday was any indication of what lies ahead, then the HBCU world needs to be really worried about Jackson State. As it stands the Tigers are the team to beat and seem poised to buzz saw their way to another SWAC title and back to the Celebration Bowl. If 2021 was the springboard then it certainly feels as though the Tigers have truly arrived here in 2022.
Jackson State will begin prepping for the Southern Heritage Classic next week where they’ll take on Tennessee State in Memphis. FAMU, meanwhile, will try to brush the dust off and head home to face DII’s Albany State.