Week one is in the books and we sure did learn a lot…ok, maybe not. But we did find out some key things that coaching staffs will have to improve upon in order to move up our lists. Here is how we have the conference after the first week.
1) Eastern Illinois 1-0 (Last Week: 1)
Writers Rank: 1, Fans Rank: 1
The Panthers are still the team to beat in the OVC and this past week’s performance solidified this team at the number one spot until they get knocked off by a conference foe. The offense we knew was going to be this good but it was the defense improvement that stood out. Allowing only 1 touchdown and forcing 5 turnovers against a FBS school is always going to get the victory. Panthers will have to snap back quick and not have a let down game against an Southern Illinois team that almost upset Illinois.
2) Eastern Kentucky 1-0 (Last week: 2)
Writers Rank: 2, Fans Rank: 2
Jared McClain stole the show and the Colonels did what we expected but what about the running game? Watching the game it seemed to struggle on the usual handoffs but in the end they put up over 200 yards on the ground. They spread the carries around and you have to wonder how many times this season will the QB lead the team in carries. Defensibly the Colonels are what we expected, tough and not going to be run on, Robert Morris only had 55 yards running. Sadly these stats won’t last long when they take on Louisville and a Heisman front runner.
3) Jacksonville State 1-0 (Last week: 3)
Writers Rank: 4, Fans Rank: 3
Max Shortell is the starter but if it wasn’t for the 3rd quarter this team would be 0-1. Can we call it first game jitters under Bill Clark and his new offensive system? How about the running attack we have come to know with the Gamecocks, and when you have of the top running back combos in the league and they only get 104 yards on 34 carries is scary. Maybe it was Alabama State’s defense, we will find out this week as the Gamecocks come home to face Jacksonville who fell to FCS power Delaware 51- 35. If there was a game to get the running backs going, this would be it.
4) UT Martin 1-0 (Last week: 6)
Writers Rank: 3, Fans Rank: 5
The Skyhawks still have a quarterback battle but we expect it to become a dual system with both Jarod Neal and Dylan Favre splitting reps. With the dual threat ability plus a ground game the Skyhawks are once again adapting their system to what they have on the team. Any win on the road is great and this past week’s against a ranked FCS opponent could help the team down the road. Plus it helps them avoid starting 0-2 as they travel to the blue turf of Boise State.
5) Tennessee State 0-1 (Last week: 4)
Writers Rank: 6, Fans Rank: 4
When your defense allows 12 points in a game, you should win the game right? Tiger fans would normally say yes if a certain QB was back, I’m not going to mention his name until he is eligible again MG!) The miracle dust from last season didn’t carry over this year and it was really surprising to see them in it at the end of the game to be honest. The strength of this team is the defense, who actually set up points for the offense by giving them the ball inside the 10. The offense will have a short week as they take on another MEAC team, Florida A&M.
6) Murray State 0-1 (Last week: 5)
Writers Rank: 5, Fans Rank: 7
The Racers seem like last year’s team all over again, just in newer uniforms. The offense will be good, just look at the first quarter then they were leading Missouri 14-13. Maikhail Miller would have done better if it wasn’t for blitzs that lead to him getting smashed and picked off. That will be learned in time, but the defense oh boy where to start. They were playing 8 yards off receivers and still were somehow not near a Tiger receiver when they caught it. Were they going to win this game? No but Racer fans were hoping not having to see games where they have to score 42 points to have a chance just like last year. This week they take on Campbellsville which will be a stat sheet game similar to one that happened this past weekend. It’s also Senior Day, I’ll talk more on this in the game preview……
7) Tennessee Tech 1-0 (Last week: 7)
Writers Rank: 7, Fans Rank: 7
Oh the Golden Eagles, the team that we are sure think we have something against. Yes you won the home opener and put up amazing stats but really how is it going to translate into Wisconsin? I think the theory is gets stats this week, so after the Badgers game we have ok stats. In all honesty I really don’t want to take much from this game. The offense does have a weapon in Ladarius Vanlier who took advantage of the game with a 93 yard punt return for a touchdown. We don’t know much about the defense and we will stay in a holding pattern until they play at Hampton.
8) Austin Peay 0-1 (Last week: 9)
Writers Rank: 8, Fans Rank: 9
“They are who we thought they were”, I really wish Kirby Cannon had said that after losing to Tennessee. The Govs do have positives to take from this game, primarily the fact they do have a throwing quarterback in Andrew Spivey. After throwing an interception and being 21-0 the Govs marched down the field on the arm of Spivey who would toss five straight completions. In an OVC game, it would have lead to a touchdown, but the kicking game at Austin Peay is like last year, none. Defense has to erase the tape and probably all the tape until they play Chattanooga in a few weeks.
9) Southeast Missouri 0-1 (Last week: 8)
Writers Rank: 9, Fans Rank: 8
New quarterback didn’t improve the passing game, rushing game was still there but limited in impact and the defense where to begin. Luckily the OVC doesn’t have a lot of running teams right? If you are a Redhawks fan you have to hope it was just a terrible game or this season could be a long one, but the games could be quick if its just run, run, run. 309 yards allowed and six touchdowns on the ground is never going to win a game. It gets worse for SEMO as they travel to Ole Miss who is coming off an huge win against Vanderbilt.