- The FCS playoffs are into the quarterfinals, with Eastern Illinois playing tonight at home in primetime on ESPN2, and Jacksonville State playing tomorrow on the red turf of Eastern Washington. (Preview) After all the years of disappointment in the FCS playoffs, the fact that two of the final eight teams are from the OVC is an amazing accomplishment, no matter how it ends. Even more amazing: the two teams remaining have coaches in their first and second season, respectively. But here’s the one thing that can’t be overlooked: both teams have great offenses. Yes, defense is important, but to win in college football, you have to be able to score. You can’t completely ignore the other side of the ball (*cough* Murray State *cough*) but you’re not going to win on the national level 10-9 very often. Need more proof how important scoring is? Every team playing this week scored at least 30 points last week. Every one.
- Speaking of Eastern Illinois, the Panthers dodged their first bullet earlier this week as Eastern Michigan announced their new head football coach, a position Dino Babers applies for. I’m not certain how many more they’ll be able to avoid. Applying for that level of job after just two seasons leads me to feel that Babers wants to get back into FBS, and he’ll likely be a hot candidate as more positions open as coaches move around this summer. If Eastern Illinois hasn’t discussed it already, they need to offer Babers an extension and raise, and soon. He’s clearly already getting his name out there, and the amount of press Babers has brought to the program in just two season is simply outstanding.
- Basketball is back tomorrow with a six game slate, including our OVCBall Game of the Week, as SIUE travels to IPFW. The Mastadons are already 12 games into their season (partially because they only play a 14-game conference slate in the Summit League) and have narrow wins over Eastern Illinois and Tennessee Tech, making them a good measuring stick for the 2-7 Cougars. Depending on how you look at it, you could make the argument that SIUE is a deep team, and that they lack a consistent “leader,” that go-to-guy in the clutch, a situation they’ve already found themselves in multiple times this season. Five different players have led the team in scoring over the Cougars nine games, and Bradley transfer Donivine Stewart is the only player averaging double-figures, although he’s been held to nine points total in the last two games. The defense is troublesome (allowing 1.12 points per possession, last in the OVC) but the offense lacks a certain consistency that would see them well as the season advances.
FEATUREDPredicting the OVC race…in mid-December