Capital City Classic will showcase two of the SWAC’s top quarterbacks

I hate to get all Terrell Owens, but so what if the 17th annual Capital City Classic doesn’t impact the Southwestern Athletic Conference race?

These are your quarterbacks, man.

There remains a chance to experience an afternoon with two of the league’s brightest young passing stars, as Jackson State (7-3 overall, 5-3 SWAC) and Alcorn State (5-5, 4-4) face off on Saturday.

Braves standout Brandon Bridge, the freshman from Canada, has already thrown for more than 2,000 yards and run for nearly 600 while accounting for 26 scores. Running back Gabriel Nash has added 600 rushing yards and six touchdowns, but otherwise it’s been all-Bridge, all-the-time. This one guy is putting up 70 percent of the offense for Alcorn.

“He has a lot of intangibles and he will get better as he hones his skills,” Alcorn State coach Ernest Collins said. “We will win a lot of games with him here.”

Jackson State counters with Casey Therriault, the juco transfer who has thrown for a SWAC-best 3,272 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was just named the College Football Performance Awards national performer of the week after destroying Arkansas-Pine Bluff, throwing for five scores and running in two more.

Too bad we won’t be able to watch. The SWAC this week canceled its online broadcast of the Capital City Classic.

The SWAC announced plans to televise the game live on its website about a month ago, back when there appeared to be a divisional crown on the line — and a chance to advance to the conference title match. Of course, Alabama State subsequently won the East last week.

“Without it having championship implications,” assistant league commissioner Tom Galbraith said, “we’re going to allocate those funds elsewhere.”

Fair enough. These are tough economic times. But it’s a shame. There’s still something on the line for both teams.

[Prairie View A&M got up from the mat to end Alcorn State’s SWAC championship quest.]

Alcorn is looking to claim its first winning season since 2006. Therriault, meanwhile, is edging ever closer to six separate school marks — including passing yards in a season (369 yards away from Robert Kent’s 3,640 in 2001), career passing touchdowns (3 away from Kent’s 31 in 2001-02), passing completions in a year (7 away from Kent’s 245, in 2001), passing attempts (39 away from Kent’s 453, in 2001), total offense (440 yards away from Kent’s 3,824, also in ’01), and completion percentage (.5 percent away from Jimmy Oliver’s 58.0 in 2007).

Of course, the SWAC’s decision might have been made tougher if fans had done their part. Last year’s crowd of 16,429 was the smallest in almost a decade, according to report out of The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, though that is partly attributed to rainy conditions. Nearly twice as many attended the 2007-08 editions, but that is still far from capacity at the 40,000-seat Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.

Jackson State leads 10-6 since the founding of the Capital City Classic in 1994.


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