Thursday got the season underway in an exciting way, and for the rest of the conference, the excitement begins today.
…until you look at the schedule, and realize that every game has the potential to be a blowout, and most of which are not in the OVC’s favor.
Which is always the problem with week one. It’s the FBS vs FCS money game spectacular.And while I completely understand why and FBS team would subject themselves to this type of game, (i.e. I can think of $450,000 reasons for Murray State) as a fan watching these kind of games is brutal. You end up hoping more that no one gets injured than anything. In fact, I usually don’t, regardless whether the team I’m following is on the FBS or the FCS side of things.
Especially in football. College basketball has always had an air of “any team can win any game,” but that’s just not the case in football. Yes, FCS upsets happen, (FCS teams went 6-84 against FBS opposition last year) just ask Middle Tennessee State, but it’s always a high-ranking FCS team over a low-ranking FBS team, and even then, those upsets are rare, and being that it’s a low ranking FBS team, it’s less of a “money” game to begin with.
If you just can’t take it anymore, @tomviathoughts and I will be live tweeting every game today. (although Memphis / UT Martin is iffy) You can follow us on our new @OVCgametime twitter account, where all our live game coverage this season will be. I will warn you know, we’ll spit out a lot of tweets, and if it’s too much for you, I’ll RT the important ones @OVCBall. It’s really up to you how much coverage you want this year.
Here’s today’s first word.
Eastern Kentucky at Purdue
2:30 p.m. (BTN)
Remember when I said the formula for a money game upset was high-ranking FCS team versus low-ranking FBS team. This is nearly that. The Colonels upset bid did gain a little more legitimacy this week when it was announced that Boilermakers LB Dewayne Beckford was suspended indefinitely.
Of all the games this week, this is the one in which I think the FBS team should at least be competitive. I’m not calling for an upset, but I think EKU can score against Purdue, and I think EKU has the defense to stop Purdue, at least on occasion. And hey, if it’s close in the 4th quarter, you never know what might happen.
Obviously, everyone will be looking to see how Walter Payton watch listed RB Matt Denham does against what should be the best run defense the Colonels play this year. I’ll be curious how much they want to unleash the option attack with T.J. Pryor. If there’s a player the Colonels might try to protect from hits, it’s him.
That being said, if they do that, I take back my comment about a competitive game.
I laughed as I read the games notes for this one. The second sentence in the game notes: “The Colonels have lost 11 straight
season openers including a very tight 10-7 decision at Kansas State last year.” Maybe you should bury that information next year…
Murray State at #7 Florida State
5:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
That other OVC Peyton Award candidate gets to go against what’s expected to be one of the top defenses in the entire nation to open up his senior year. And to make things even better for Casey Brockman, Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel is named to the Davey
O’Brien Award, given to the top quarterback in the FBS.
One very interesting statistic could very well be at risk: “In the Chris Hatcher era, Murray State has found the endzone at least one time in every game. More impressively, the Hatch Attack has produced at least two touchdowns in every game against an FCS opponent.” If they keep both of those streaks alive, the Racers have officially had a very good day. Even if they lose 84-14.
I don’t expect Murray to be able to move the ball on the ground against the Seminoles defensive line, but really increases the risk of a blowout. I think Brockman will have to throw for the Racers to gain yards, which means more possessions and a longer game for the Racers defense.
Oh and Murray, “RV/RV Murray State?” Really? Receiving Votes for their ranking in the game notes? Come on…they’re unranked.
Austin Peay at Western Kentucky
6:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
Very interesting fact from Luke Thompson of the Leaf-Chronicle:
Fun fact: Neither APSU nor WKU has beaten a D-1 team out of conference since Sept. 20, 2008.
Well, that’s got to change.
I said this back when I ranked this year’s money games, I love this matchup, because at least in the instance, your fans can actually drive to see this “money game.” It’s at least some level of consolation for what is widely expected to be yet another blowout. (Although it should be on par with their 72-10 loss against Cincinnati last year)
This is another “money game” that could be competitive, which was be a huge win for the Govs even if it’s only competitive into the 3rd quarter. That being said, WKU is much improved over the past few years, finally resembling a FBS team. Big thing to watch in this one: can WR Devin Stark get free in the Hilltoppers secondary, and if so Jake Ryan get him the ball.
Continuing the theme of funny things in game notes, this the fifth note on the front page “Worth Noting”: “Only 11 times in those 27 years when Austin Peay has won its season opener have the Governors gone on to record a winning season.” So you’re saying they should lose it? I’m confused?
Florida A&M at Tennessee State
6:00 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
It’s the 14th annual John A. Merritt Classic, but the first time the Tigers have taken on Florida A&M during it. That’s not to say these teams aren’t familiar with each other: they’ve met ever year since 1983, except for last year. After 8 straight losses, the Tigers finally broke through with a win in 2010, and hope to make it 2 straight wins today.
Last year, Florida A&M’s pass defense was scary, grabbing 22 interceptions, which creates a huge challenge for sophomore quarterback Michael German. Expect the Tigers to keep the ball on the ground with Trabais Ward early, hoping to gash the Rattlers rush defense, which wasn’t that strong last season.
It was thanks to turnovers that the Rattlers managed much of their offense last year. They didn’t have a single 600-yard rusher,
Once again, I didn’t have to get past the front page of the game notes for a good laugh. (Every SID in the conference is going to despise me after today…) “Tennessee State holds a 25-25 advantage in the all-time series dating back to 1944.” According to A&M, the Tigers do lead the series 26-24. Typos are funny. (Now feel free to pick me apart. Don’t worry, it’s not hard)
UT Martin at Memphis
Another “money game” the fans can reasonably attend, and if there is an OVC upset today, this is my pick. I still put the chance at about 5%, but that’s about 4.9% higher than a lot of the other matchups…
This is also just the “money game” warmup act for the Skyhawks, who take on Northern Illinois later in the season.
Why do I give this the best chance of an upset? Memphis is a FCS program disguised in an FBS uniform. Last season, they scored just over 16-points a game, while giving up 35. They lost on average by 3 TOUCHDOWNS. And UT Martin proved last year they could move the football.
Memphis run game barely eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season, managing a horrific 2.4 yards per rush.
This will come down to the pass game on both sides. The Skyhawks, and Derrick Carr, should be able to move the ball through the air. The question is can they stop Memphis from doing the same.
Much like, well every team, UTM starts of their games notes on a positive note: “The Skyhawks are looking for their first season-opening victory on the road since 1994 when they beat SIU” I’m not saying these facts aren’t interesting (because they are) but start with the positive. Come on guys, talk up your team a little bit!
Jacksonville State at #10 Arkansas
6:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
Normally, when Jacksonville State heads to and FBS school, everyone is on upset alert. I just don’t see it here, especially if head coach Jack Crowe enacts his 2 quarterback plan with Marquis Ivory and Coty Blanchard. I’m not a fan of two quarterback systems, especially when you’re facing a quality defense like Arkansas.
But the Gamecocks success may rely more on RB Washaun Easley than either quarterback. The Razorbacks struggled some stopping the run last year, although it should be noted that stopping the run in the SEC last season was a challenge for pretty much everyone not in the National Title game.
The Gamecocks will be without WR Trey Smith, who is injured for this week.
Even more sadly, I have to report…I found nothing entertaining in the JSU game notes. Yes, I know I failed…