Tennessee State released their football schedule today, and it’s fairly familiar. They’ll kick off the season against a lower division team (Edward Waters?) in the John Merritt Classic, this year being held at LP Field. The rest of their non-conference schedule includes trips to Alabama State and Jackson State, and hosting Florida A&M at LP Field. Their third LP Field game will be hosting Eastern Kentucky on the first of November. Being a 12-game season, TSU will play a full OVC schedule. (They will play just seven when the schedule is reduced to 11 games the following season, due to a weird calendar quirk.)
The Tigers will host Jacksonville State, UT Martin, and Tennessee Tech at “The Hole,” with road trips to Murray State, Southeast Missouri, Austin Peay, and Eastern Illinois.
As much as we talk about “strength of schedule” in basketball, in football, getting to eight or especially nine wins seems to be most important, mostly regardless of schedule, if you want to make it to the postseason. TSU’s schedule is generally very friendly in this regard, and that seems to be the case next season.
I’m excited that the Tigers are returning to Hale Stadium for three games a year. I love LP field…for professional football. I don’t quite understand the allure of playing in a huge, albeit mostly empty stadium.
UT Martin, on the other hand, seems to be going the other way with their schedule, which was also announced yesterday. Their non-conference slate: at Kentucky, at Mississippi State, at Central Arkansas, and hosting NAIA Cumberland.
In the OVC, the Skyhawks host Eastern Kentucky, SEMO, Tennessee Tech, and Austin Peay, and travel to Jacksonville State, Tennessee State, Murray State, and Eastern Illinois.
Getting just to eight wins could be a challenge: 6-2 in the OVC is an absolute must, and the road schedule is less than friendly taking on all three of last years FCS playoff participants on the road. Two money games is good for the checkbook, but ultimately could be bad for the team’s chances to pull an at large bid should they not be able to win the conference.
I’m a few weeks behind on this, but SEMO could finally be getting a quarterback they so desperately need. Earlier this month, the school announced that Central Michigan quarterback Alex Niznak will transfer to the Redhawks. He’ll be eligible immediately, and have two years of eligibility remaining.
Kyle Snyder looked solid in the school’s spring game, but it’s hard not to note that was also against SEMO’s defense, which wasn’t exactly stout last season. Niznak played in just a few games last season at CMU, most notably throwing for 131 years in rout by Michigan, so he’s not exactly a slam dunk to start over Snyder, although I’d be somewhat surprised if he didn’t. Niznak (which is incredibly fun to say) also started one game, but was pulled after a poor performance in the pouring rain.