Teams wrap up their non-conference schedules this week and we even have our first OVC conference matchup.
These games are about momentum and for the others starting off on the right foot.
Austin Peay at Ohio
1 p.m. CDT
CB: The Governors complete their “allergic to winning” FBS tour this weekend facing off against an Ohio team that’s won bowl games each of the past two seasons. Sorry, was that rude? It was, wasn’t it. It was either that or the “it’s all about the money” FBS tour. Better? No?
I’m sure through four weeks, my disdain for excessive money games (i.e. three in one season) has become quite clear now. But, to be honest, it’s about all I can preview at this point. The Governors looked little better in their only FCS non-conference game last week against Chattanooga as they did the two weeks previous.
So, knowing that I’m a fountain of negativity, I went out in search of some positives about this Governors team. And realize here, this is a serious attempt; I’m going to actually attempt to not be sarcastic. Here’s what I came up with:
- Central Michigan transfer Tim Phillips has looked solid, especially given the lack of a Governors passing game. He’s averaging 5.2 yards a carry and has the team’s only touchdown of the year.
- Despite the superior competition, the Governors have done a fair job staying even in the turnover battle. They’re -1 in turnover margin on the season, having given up the ball three times in three games.
- Kicker Walter Spears hasn’t missed from inside of 30-yards this season, and leads the team in scoring with 7 points.
- Punter Ben Campbell is averaging almost 40-yards a punt on 23 attempts in three games.
Okay, so there were a few negative mentions up there, but that’s seriously the best I can do. I didn’t mention how Austin Peay has a 19-game road losing streak, or how the Governors have yet to have a 100-yard passer in a game, or how in their last FBS game Austin Peay didn’t gain a single first down in the first half.
Stat of the Day: 156 minutes was how long it took Austin Peay to score a touchdown this season.
Southern Illinois vs Southeast Missouri
(at Busch Stadium)
1 p.m. CDT
TV: This is the game the Redhawks have been waiting for, not because of who they are playing but where it is being played. I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t like football being played in a baseball stadium because of the seating for the fans. In this case its about the players and the alumni. The Redhawks have 26 players from the St. Louis area and nearly 40,000 alumni in the area (according to SEMO’s gamenotes)
On the field the Redhawks are coming off a bye which was literally a recovery week for the 0-2 team. Head Coach Tony Samuel said both Kyle Synder and Scott Lathrop will see action and it looks like Lathrop’s performance against Ole Miss is going to earn him the start.
The Redhawks are a running team, and so far they are only averaging 149 yards a game. Sure both games saw the team having to throw the ball because they were behind but SEMO is a possession team, one of the few in the league and depend on the ground game to support their defense.
Southern Illinois is a good 1-2 team. Their two losses have been to Illinois by 8 and to OVC favorite Eastern Illinois in double overtime. The Salukis like to throw the ball and are susceptible to the air attack as well. This could be the week if ever, that SEMO could air it out.
Stat of the Day: This is the fourth time the Redhawks have played at Busch Stadium. SEMO played at old Busch when they were at Division II program and went 1-2.
Jacksonville State at Georgia State
1 p.m. CDT
Written by: Zack White
Jacksonville State travels to Atlanta this weekend to face a struggling Georgia State squad. If you look at recent history, the JSU vs. GSU game has become a rivalry of sorts. This year, the game takes on new life with new coaches Bill Clark and Trent Miles.
So far, the Gamecocks have relied on defense and special teams to win. It will be tough to follow that formula this week with a team who likes to pass and has a big offensive line. According to Coach Clark, “Their offensive line is as good as we have seen.” The Gamecocks will need to find a quarterback this week who can complete a pass longer than fifteen yards. When a running back has the longest pass from scrimmage, something needs to be changed in the passing game.
Eli Jenkins and Max Shortell are tied in passing attempts but every other stat favors Shortell. The Minnesota transfer has 242 passing yards and the only passing touchdowns thrown by a quarterback. Offensive Coordinator John Grass made Jenkins the tentative starter because he can run, but the Gamecocks need to find a golden arm quickly to win in the pass-happy OVC. Expect the biggest producer this weekend to be the starter for the rest of the season.
Georgia State is winless in three games, losing by at least two possessions in each game. JSU is the Panther’s third FBS opponent of the season. Quarterback Ronnie Bell is the main source of offense for GSU because they have played from behind all season. If Georgia State can stay in the game early, they may have a chance to win. Otherwise, expect the Gamecocks to run away with this one.
Stat of the Day: Troymaine Pope is living up to the hype in his sophomore year, leading OVC running backs in total offense and touchdowns (tied). Pope is 2nd in the conference in rushing yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
Murray State at Bowling Green
2:30 p.m. CDT
TV: Murray State wraps up their non-conference portion with a trip to Bowling Green carrying momentum from a last minute win against Missouri State.
If you read my power rankings then you know understand why I’m not impressed with the Racers, who depend a lot on one player. There is no doubt as to why Walter Powell is getting NFL scouts attention.
Murray State needs a strong showing in order to keep momentum for the conference portion and if the Racers can play a half and not just a quarter like they did against Missouri this could be a good game.
Both teams like to throw the ball, with both teams averaging over 250 yards through the air. The mobility of Maikhail Miller is going to be needed as FCS vs FBS games require the quarterback to be able to extend plays in order to make plays. If the Racers can establish a ground game with their running backs then it could be a close one for the Racers.
On the flipside, Bowling Green likes to throw the ball and for Racer fans that means you have to depend that your secondary improves. Better yet the defense period. Over 500 yards a game are what opposing offenses are getting against the Racers.
Stat of the Day: Murray State is 4-8-1 against the Mid-American Conference with their last win coming against Akron in 1984.
#8 Eastern Illinois at Northern Illinois
6 p.m. CDT
TV: Let’s not pretend that Eastern Illinois can’t pull off another FBS win this season. After a dominating performance week one, the Panthers had a letdown against SIU but came out with the win. Week three blowout win, but something tells me EIU has stayed focused this week as the take on a program that had college football talking when they played in the Orange Bowl last January.
Its a battle of the quarterbacks in this one. All eyes will be on the shotgun and how each plays. If you have pay any attention to the OVC or even FCS football you know about Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo is averaging 430 yards a game this year through the air and you can bet NIU has been trying to design a way to confuse the quarterback or try to limit his favorite weapon Erik Lora.
The Panthers had one thing to gameplan for and that is quarterback Jordan Lynch. Lynch is coming off his fifth 150-150 game which saw the senior QB throw for 152 yards and run for 159 yards. Perfect practice for Eastern Kentucky who the Panthers play next week. There is no doubt why Lynch is listed as a Heisman Trophy candidate but he is pretty low on the list, but on the list none the less.
Stat of the Day: The two schools were members of the IIAC from the 1930’s until 1965.
Eastern Kentucky at Morehead State
6 p.m. CDT
TV: Another OVC….. oh sorry I thought it was basketball season. Well it’s a rivalry game at least these two schools do consider themselves rivals so even though Morehead State isn’t in the OVC for football things should be close.
Meeting for the first time since 1993, the Colonels look to bounce back and gain some momentum before their game of the year.
The Colonels are trying to get a running game. Coach Dean Hood wants his running back to get 200 yards like they did in the first week because you can’t be led by your quarterback on the ground. Hood did say he was happy that the majority of Jared McClain’s 164 rushing yards were designed runs.
On paper this is the perfect game for the Colonels offense to come alive. Morehead State is coming off a 69-19 loss to Jacksonville in which the Eagles allowed over 400 yards on the ground.
Stat of the Day:Give An EKU win would give give the Colonels their eighth straight win over Morehead State dating back to 1990.
Tennessee State at Tennessee Tech
7 p.m. CDT
CB: OVC play gets underway in Week 4 with an intriguing, although not necessarily sexy matchup of two teams whose offenses have underwhelmed thus far.
Michael German returned to the Tigers lineup midway through last week’s game, but struggled to find his rhythm, hitting just 4-14 passes. German is listed over freshman Ronald Butler on this week depth chart, and will likely get his first start of season. If he struggles, don’t be surprised to see head coach Rod Reed make a change; Butler was solid, if a little safe, in his first three games this year, but he didn’t make a lot of mistakes, which is what you want from your backup.
The hope for TSU is that German can help kickstart an offense averaging just 310 yards a game. Preseason All-American tight end A.C. Leonard has 11 catches, and yet to eclipse the 100-yard mark total for the season. The running game has been solid: two rushers are averaging more than five yards an attempt, and those numbers could get even better is TSU can present a credible downfield threat.
Tennessee Tech’s numbers are far from solid statistically, and I can’t help but feel they’re somewhat inflated by not only the Golden Eagles opening week win against NAIA Cumberland. Even with that inflation, TTU is averaging just 320 yards of offense a game.
Quarterback Darian Stone has looked the best this year when he’s been able to get out and run, especially in the red zone. Stone’s hitting just 51.7% of his passes, but has scrambled for three scores. Cody Matthews was his key target in the Golden Eagles close win over Hampton, catching nine passes for 114 yards, but totaled just four passes in the two game prior. Given no other player on the team has more than six catches on the season, TSU will likely try to hone on Matthews, and make Stone throw to a secondary target.
Stat of the Day: This game is battle between the top two defenses statistically in the OVC TSU defense only allows 261 yards a game and TTU follows at 343 yards.