ATLANTA (AP) _ Southern University defensive back Jackie Mitchell showed off his Heritage Bowl championship ring after Bethune-Cookman wide receiver James Adderly said he'd like one for himself this holiday season.

`James is trying to get this,'' Mitchell said, but then noted the chance will come Dec. 26. ``That's after Christmas. Santa's not working after Christmas.''

The two senior stars traded good-natured verbal jabs Tuesday as the teams prepare for the eighth Heritage Bowl, matching historically black colleges from the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

For Southern, fresh from last week's 26-14 Bayou Classic victory over Grambling State to claim the SWAC championship, the game offers a chance to win its fourth Heritage Bowl in five trips, including last year's 34-28 victory over South Carolina State in the Georgia Dome.

``We've played well up here,'' said coach Pete Richardson, but added that his 8-3 team is tired after a season marked by injuries.

``Now I have to go back and rejuvenate them,'' Richardson said.

Meanwhile, surprising Bethune-Cookman, 8-2, is playing in its first Heritage Bowl and also its first postseason game in 21 years.

Coach Alvin Wyatt said the appearance is the achievement of a goal he set after attending last year's game as a spectator. But he added that reaching the game isn't enough.

``Bethune-Cookman has accomplished a lot this year. They are a team to be reckoned with,'' he said.

Wyatt and Richardson were teammates in the Buffalo Bills defensive backfield three decades ago, Wyatt noted, but he promised the game is ``going to be war.''

``We believe Southern is a better team right now than Bethune-Cookman,'' Wyatt said, then added quickly: ``But come Dec. 26, I believe it will be a different story.''