Austin Howard passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns and Southern's defense survived a goal-line stand as time expired Saturday to defeat Grambling State 52-45 in the 41st annual Bayou Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Southern (8-3, 8-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference) clinched the West Division crown, and will face East Division champion Alcorn State next Saturday in Houston for the conference title.
Jonathan Williams engineered Grambling State's rally from a 21-point deficit in the third quarter, but was stopped at the 1 on the game's final play. One play earlier, Williams scrambled 9 yards on fourth-and-9.
Lenard Tillery rushed for 168 yards on 27 carries for the Jaguars, scoring twice.
For Grambling, Williams passed for 450 yards and four TDs, but was sacked six times. The Tigers (7-5, 7-2) now trail Southern 21-20 all-time in the annual Thanksgiving weekend matchup of historically black college programs.