The season is almost over. The OVC championship is. So what’s left? There’s pride, playoffs, and…Austin Peay versus TTU!
Hey…Austin Peay versus SEMO turned into quite a battle.
Here’s the 10 things we learned in Week 12:
1) EASTERN ILLINOIS WAS NEVER GOING TO LOSE THE OVC TITLE
Sure, they still could lose a game next week, with little seemingly on the line at UT Martin (except potentially losing a first round bye in the FCS playoffs) but they wrapped up the OVC title this weekend with another dominating win over Jacksonville State. But let’s be honest, a conference title was the only outcome for this team. No team is close to having the firepower of EIU, and it’s been evident all year.
2)…BECAUSE NO OTHER TEAM CAN PASS THE BALL DOWNFIELD
Jimmy Garoppolo is leading the league with 4,012 yards on the season. Second in the OVC? Maikhail Miller of Murray, with…1,754. Last season, six OVC quarterbacks threw for 2,000 yards; three threw 3,000. I’ve made this point all season, but I can’t help making it again: you cannot win consistently in college football in 2013 without throwing the football well. While we knew the OVC was losing a great crop of quarterbacks last season, I don’t think anyone expected that most of the conference was turning back the clock to an era where the quarterback’s main role was handing it off to the man behind him.
3) TENNESSEE STATE HAS VIRTUALLY NO “STYLE POINTS”
Nine wins should be enough the make an expanded FCS playoffs, but they’re really making it harder than it should be. A big win over Murray would have sent a nice message to the playoff committee; instead the offense sputters against one of the worst defenses in the OVC. Again, nine wins is very solid, and I can hardly imagine them being left out. But it’s a 24-team tournament, and TSU looks to be just on the edge of the top-25 in both polls this week with their season over.
4) NO OTHER OVC TEAM HAS MUCH OF AN FCS PLAYOFFS ARGUMENT
UT Martin could throw their name in the pot with a win over Eastern Illinois on Saturday, but it’s hard to see where the rest of the conference falls. Jacksonville State will likely also have nine wins if they get past SEMO, but will the committee put the third place team over TSU, the 2nd? It’s hard to imagine the OVC getting three, because they’ve really beaten each other up this year, which is par for the course. EKU’s loss to UTM this weekend all but ended their hopes.
5) UT MARTIN HAD THE TALENT TO FINISH 2ND IN THE OVC
We saw it again this weekend winning in Richmond. They just couldn’t get out of their own way. They’re seventh in the league in scoring offense despite averaging 400 yards a game, third in the league. One of the big reasons why: they’re dead last in the conference in turnover margin. Their 17 fumbles and 28 total turnovers are the worst in the league. Their -11 margin is by far the worst: EKU is eighth at -2.
6) WALTER POWELL’S IMPACT IS CLEAR IN HIS ABSENCE
If Murray State could have run the ball for more than 24 yards against Tennessee State, do they win that game? They jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but couldn’t hold on. Sure, stopping TSU’s rushing attack would have helped. It’s pretty clear when you look at Parks Frasier’s stats: He hits 12 in a row in the first quarter. Take out those throws, he finishes 18-31. Still not bad, but there was clearly and adjustment made by the Tigers, and Murray had no answer.
7) JSU HAS A BRIGHT FUTURE IF THEY CAN STAY HEALTHY
As many injuries as the Gamecocks have dealt with this season, it’s amazing they’re likely on their way to a nine-win season. Max Shortell is going to be very good before his time is done, and they get DaMarcus James back next season. With Eastern Illinois graduating so much offensive production, the top spot could be much more of a battle next year, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Gaemcocks right in the middle of it.
8) THIS IS A REPEAT: THE FACT THAT SEMO CAN’T STOP THE RUN IN MINDBOGGLING
Seriously, again Redhawks? This time it’s allowing 300 yards on the ground to Austin Peay, a team averaging less than half that coming into the game. It’s the cornerstone of your own offense; what your team should be seeing in practice game in and game out. It’s not like Austin Peay suddenly went from a passing juggernaut to a ground-and-pound team. You had to know they were going to run the ball on, at least, 80%-90% of their runs, right?
9) IT’S HARD TO WIN ON THE ROAD
Even when it’s at Austin Peay. The Governors played their hearts out, their best game of the year by far, and made SEMO earn the win on their home field. I don’t care how bad the team is, what their record is: there’s a reason most teams have a better record at home.
10) THE BEST GAME OF THE WEEKEND WAS THE ONE NO ONE WANTED TO WATCH
Will next weekend’s Austin Peay at Tennessee Tech be the same?