The OVC Ball Game of the Week features #9 Jacksonville State and #13 Chattanooga. The last meeting was in 2012 when the Gamecocks won 27-24 on a last second Griffin Thomas field goal, but the century-old rivalry has been lopsided in the Mocs’ favor. Tomorrow’s game will be only the second meeting where both teams are ranked.
The impact of the matchup is huge, as a win for either team will go a long way to wooing the FCS Playoff selection committee in November. Additionally, JSU and Chattanooga recruit in the same areas, so winning impresses recruits that may be on the fence between the two schools.
The Mocs are led by Coach Russ Huesman, a UTC alum. Huesman and Chattanooga won a share of the Southern Conference title last year, but they missed the playoffs due to a tiebreaking overtime loss to Samford.
UTC lost in heartbreaking fashion to Central Michigan last week with a final score of 20-16. The upset-minded Mocs gave up twenty straight points after taking an early lead. Chattanooga’s four turnovers and inability to convert on third down were the primary reasons for the loss.
On offense, Chattanooga features quarterback and coach’s son Jacob Huesman. The junior was the SoCon Offensive Player of the Year in 2013 and is on the Walter Payton Award Watch List this year. On defense, linebacker Muhasibi Wakeel (What a name!) had a whopping seventeen tackles last week.
Jacksonville State will try to rebound from a season-opening loss to Michigan State. This week’s game will be decided in the trenches. Defensive linemen LaMichael Fanning, Caleb Lawrence, and Devaunte Sigler are coming off a great performance against Michigan State. The Gamecock offense needs to get back to the basics and give the ball to their stable of running backs to control the clock and wear down the defense.
Saturday should tell us a lot about the Gamecocks. Are they really contenders? There is no better way to find out than on the road against a ranked rival.
Jacksonville State and Chattanooga kickoff at 6 PM ET in Chattanooga, TN. Live streaming will be provided by the SoCon Digital Network. Follow @ZackWhiteIT on Twitter for live commentary from the stands.