MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama State Hornets are tired of just coming close.
For the third year in a row, the Hornets are favored to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference East Division, where they've at least tied for the best record three of the past four seasons. That's netted only one trip to the SWAC championship game, a loss in 2010.
Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow says "it only counts in horseshoes when you're close." But he's hoping his players have learned from the near misses.
They've posted four consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1967-70.
Alabama State returns nine starters on defense and seven on offense.
Quarterback Daniel Duhart is back, along with leading receiver Earl Lucas, top tackler Kourtney Berry and all-conference defensive lineman Derrick Billups.