Jacksonville State, as usual, is carrying the banner for the OVC. The only other team having real success in the non-conference portion of the schedule is Tennessee Tech. Other than those two teams, the OVC has shown very poorly against non-conference opponents. This is looking like a 2 bid league max in the 2019 playoffs. This week is all conference play for the Ohio Valley teams
BYE: Southeast Missouri State
Conference Game of the Week:
Jacksonville State (3-1) at Austin Peay (2-2)
Where: Fortera Stadium, Clarkesville, TN
When: Saturday September 28th, 3:00 PM
TV/Streaming: ESPN+ (subscription req’d)
Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Since their opening game loss, Jacksonville State has rattled off three solid wins in a row. The Gamecocks seem to have righted the ship and look poised to run through the OVC for the sixth year in a row. If the Gamecocks run the table again in conference play, they will certainly earn a playoff seed. But we all know this team will never be judged on their regular season successes at this point. All that matters is their postseason performance.
Key Player: Through four games, we are waiting for WR Josh Pearson to get on track. He has scored five touchdowns, but he has only 18 catches for 308 yards. The name of the game is scoring points, so Pearson is doing that. But I think many expected the Payton Award candidate to have a monster senior year.
Austin Peay Governors
Much like the rest of the Ohio Valley, Austin Peay has not been able to gain traction in the early portion of the season. The Governors looked like they were set up to get to 3-1 before allowing 10 fourth quarter points to East Tennessee State last week. That was a game Austin Peay had to have for their playoff resume. Unfortunately they could not close the deal and that may cost them at the end of the season.
Key Player: Austin Peay is going to have to slow down the Jacksonville State pass game. To do that, they will need a big game from DB Juantarius Bryant. The redshirt senior leads the Governors in tackles with 34 and has been credited with three pass breakups. This game will come down to the Jacksonville State receivers against the Austin Peay secondary and Bryant will have a big hand in that outcome.
Fearless Prediction: Jacksonville State seems to be firing on all cylinders again this year. Take the Gamecocks here. Jacksonville State 37, Austin Peay 21
Fearless predictions for the rest of the slate
Tennessee Tech (3-1) at Eastern Illinois (0-4), Saturday September 28th, 5:00 PM, O’Brien Field, Charleston, IL, ESPN College Extra, ESPN3 (subscription req’d)
Tennessee Tech looks like they could be the second best team in the conference, while Eastern Illinois is at the other end of the spectrum. The Golden Eagles will keep rolling in this one. Tennessee Tech 30, Eastern Illinois 10
Tennessee State (1-3) at Eastern Kentucky (2-2), Saturday September 28th, 6:00 PM, Roy Kidd Stadium, Richmond, KY, ESPN+ (subscription req’d)
Eastern Kentucky was one of those teams hoping to push for a playoff spot this year. Having lost their best chance for a big OOC win, the Colonels will need to win the OVC to advance. They wont have any problems with a lackluster Tennessee State squad. Eastern Kentucky 29, Tennessee State 12
Murray State (2-2) at UT Martin (1-2), Saturday September 28th, 7:00 PM, Graham Stadium, Martin, TN, ESPN+ (subscription req’d)
Both of these teams figure to be in the bottom to middle of the OVC during conference play. But the game you have the least hope in sometimes becomes the best game of the weekend. Maybe we will get that here. Murray State 24, UT Martin 23
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He’s witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners.
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