3 key reasons why ESPN chose Jackson State’s rivalry with Southern for College GameDay

Rob Jay (Photo courtesy of Jackson State University Athletics)

Another big rule of storytelling is to have a good backstory or history, and Rob Jay, JSU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcasting, says this rivalry has exactly that. He would know — he does the play-by-play at Memorial Stadium for JSU football and is also an alumnus of the university.

“Both teams are just alike, they’re always winning, they’re always good,” Jay said. “When it comes to winning between Jackson State and Southern, it’s intense. It’s been like this for a long, long time.”

Coach Sanders is aware of this storied history between the two teams, and encouraged fans of both teams to show up and show out outside of Memorial Stadium.

“I need everybody there including, [Southern University fans],” Sanders said in an Instagram post he made on Wednesday. “This is a blessing [for] all of us baby. HBCUs everywhere.”

It’s just the fourth time since 2005 that College GameDay has featured an HBCU matchup, and it’s clear to see why this one was chosen. Southern leads the overall series 35-30, with the first game being played in 1929 before becoming an annual contest in 1958. Jay says there are multiple moments in the history of this matchup that he can remember — like last-second wins and the schools’ bands going back and forth.

This season, Jackson State is undefeated, and Southern is 5-2. Both teams are at the top of their respective divisions in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, giving the matchup SWAC Championship game implications.