Going on 4th is our new look at the top 4 storylines heading into each week of the college football season.
Ohio Valley Conference play gets underway with a quite a few teams still searching for answers, and two rivals settle the score on a baseball diamond. Here are the top four storylines for Week 4 in the OVC
Which ho-hum offense wakes up first?
We made a big deal last season of it being the “year of the quarterback,” and as a result, the year of the offenses. This year…things haven’t exactly played out the same way. Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State, Southeast Missouri, and Austin Peay are all averaging under 320-yards of offense per game, and unsurprisingly are the bottom four teams in passing through three weeks. Michael German wasn’t impressive in his first outing of the season last week, Tennessee Tech’s numbers are actually boosted thanks to a non Division-I opponent in Week one, and I’m not certain either Southeast Missouri or Austin Peay have a true passer to stretch defenses between them.
I feel TSU is in the best shape: they’ve survived their offensive struggles fairly well, and German should get the team back on track. It needs to be quickly, though, as the Tigers face TTU this week to open conference play.
2) Is Jacksonville State for real?
You could be excused for not knowing that the Gamecocks are undefeated: Their three wins haven’t been pretty, and haven’t come against the best of opposition. A win is a win, and three wins is more than none, but I’ve yet to see anything to give me reason to believe that this year’s squad is a real contender in the OVC. Last week, the Gamecocks needed overtime just to get past Division II North Alabama. This week’s opponent, Georgia State, is now a FBS program, but already has a loss to FCS Chattanooga. For all intensive purposes…they’re still FCS.
3) Does EIU have another FBS win in them?
Eastern Illinois’ last test before OVC play is a big one: a trip to Northern Illinois…A NIU team coming off a Orange Bowl birth. Winning at San Diego State was impressive, but winning at NIU would be absolutely amazing. The Panthers offense has been simply outstanding, but what’s really surprised me is how strong their defense has played so far this season. Both sides of the ball face a huge test, but given what I’ve seen out of the Panthers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see EIU still in a tight game late.
4) Football in a baseball stadium
To me, this is still just a great idea: SEMO and SIU will play each other on Saturday in St. Louis’ Busch Stadium this weekend. While I’m not certain how close the game will be, I think it should be a great atmosphere for a unique game. Both schools have sizable fan bases (and recruiting pull) in the St. Louis area, and I like the Oakland-esque dirt on the field.
Even if the Redhawks get blown out (which is a distinct possibility) the game overall is a win for the program. It will almost certainly be great exposure, and will help with SEMO’s recruiting efforts for future teams.