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South Alabama Wins as Football Returns

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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South Alabama had the nation's attention on Thursday night. The Jaguars played one of their best games in recent memory in the spotlight.

In college football's first full FBS contest of what has already been a historically unique season due to the coronavirus, South Alabama earned a statement victory over traditional Group of Five power Southern Miss. Big plays sparked the Jaguars to a 32-21 win on the road in Hattiesburg, with South Alabama largely controlling the contest against an opponent that played in a January bowl game just eight months ago. 

South Alabama had the nation's attention on Thursday night. The Jaguars played one of their best games in recent memory in the spotlight.

After a difficult nine-game losing streak last year, South Alabama was confident and effective on Thursday night. The Jaguars jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead, never once trailed and compiled 529 total yards, outgaining Southern Miss by more than 100. Quarterback Desmond Trotter starred with 299 passing yards and two touchdowns. The home run receiving trio of Jalen Tolbert, Jalen Wayne and Kawaan Baker combined for 16 receptions for 290 yards and three scores. Defensively, South Alabama held Southern Miss to just 2.6 yards per carry.

Going back to the end of this past season, Steve Campbell's Jaguars have considerable momentum. A 34-30 upset of Arkansas State, one where Trotter threw four touchdown passes, combined with the recent triumph over the Golden Eagles, gives South Alabama consecutive victories over two of the premier programs in all of G5 football. The Jaguars just won their opener for the first time in four years. South Alabama is officially on an impressive winning streak.

The Jaguars' downfield combination of Trotter, Tolbert, Wayne and Baker is one to watch and potentially one of the nation's best. Tolbert, with 169 yards, and Wayne, with 101 yards, just became the first duo to the 100-yard mark in the same game in program history. Baker was recently named to the Senior Bowl's Top 250 List. South Alabama has scored at least 27 points in four of five games since Trotter stepped in under center at Texas State. 

Many tuned into the South Alabama-Southern Miss meeting unsure of what to expect. New limitations and guidelines were in effect on the field and in the stands and players obviously had to adjust to a non-traditional gameday setting. With a few games now in the books, the start of a season is now beginning to slowly take shape. It goes without saying that plenty of questions, for college football, still remain.

In terms of the game itself, the Jaguars looked and played the part of a confident team. The first FBS side with an FBS win on the books, South Alabama will now prepare for Tulane next. Progress has already been made for the Jaguars. There may be even more to come.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports