You’re probably not used to me talking much about the Ohio Valley Conference, but I’m filling in for the usual OVC coverage team this time around. I apologize if my coverage isn’t quite up to the level of what I normally do for the MVFC, but hopefully I can get you enough info to stay up-to-date with the goings on around the OVC region.
For reference, rankings listed are from the AGS Poll.
OVC Conference Standings
|Eastern Illinois||5-2||4-0||JSU, @UTM, EKU, @AP|
|#4 Jacksonville State||5-1||3-0||@EIU, SEMO, MSU, @UTM, TSU|
|Austin Peay||4-3||3-1||SEMO, @U. Central Florida (FBS), @TTU, @EKU, EIU|
|Southeast Missouri State||2-4||2-1||@AP, @JSU, UTM, @TSU, MSU|
|UT Martin||3-3||1-2||@EKU, EIU, @SEMO, JSU, @TTU|
|Murray State||2-5||1-2||EKU, @JSU, TTU, @SEMO|
|Tennessee State||4-3||1-3||@TTU, Virginia U. Lynchburg, SEMO, @JSU|
|Eastern Kentucky||1-5||1-3||UTM, @MSU, @EIU, AP, Saint Francis U.|
|Tennessee Tech||0-7||0-4||TSU, AP, @MSU, UTM|
Now, I’m not as familiar with the OVC’s history of making the playoffs as I am with the MVFC, but it looks like Jacksonville State is pretty much a lock for the playoffs. There’s a couple of teams that could make things a little interesting, but they are favored by quite a bit in all the rest of their games. Beyond that, I think either Eastern Illinois or Austin Peay have a shot, depending on how they do in their remaining games. Austin Peay, a team that had 1 win in the previous 4 years combined has been particularly impressive, especially considering they are playing 3 FBS teams this year (Cincinnati, Miami OH, and Central Florida). If they are able to win their remaining FCS games, then I think they’ll also get strong consideration.
Last Week’s Games
Eastern Illinois at Murray State
EIU RB Isaiah Johnson rushed for an exceptional 236 yards and a TD and picked up the OVC Offensive Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week awards, which helped counteract the 3 interceptions thrown by EIU QB Bud Martin. Murray State QB had a great day, throwing for 332 yards and 2 TDs (and 1 INT), mostly to receiver Jordon Gandy who caught 10 passes for 193 yards and 1 TD. EIU’s defense held Murray State to only 58 net yards rushing, but three Murray State players (DBs D’Montre Wade, Zach Shipley, and Don Parker) all had INTs in the game.
Murray State had the first TD of the game, but Eastern Illinois came back with a couple of their own in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead into halftime. EIU padded their lead in the 3rd quarter with another TD before MSU raced from behind with two of their own in the fourth to tie up the game at 21 and take it to OT. Each team got a FG in the first OT session, then in the second OT, EIU was able to get another FG and then block MSU’s attempt to tie it again, giving the win to the Panthers.
Eastern Illinois – 27
Murray State – 24
Tennessee Tech at Southeast Missouri State
SEMO QB Jesse Hosket threw for 3 TDs and 161 yards, 109 going to WR Kristian Wilkerson along with one of the TDs. RB Cameron Sanderson had a 102 yard performance…mostly on one 70-yard TD run. The Redhawks Punter, Jake Reynolds averaged 45.9 yards on 7 punts including crushing a 78-yard bomb (4th longest in school history) and picked up the OVC Specialist of the Week award. Tennessee Tech wasn’t able to get much going at all, turning the ball over 3 times and getting fewer than 200 yards of total offense. PK Nick Madonia kicked a 37-yard FG for TTU’s only score of the game.
In the first quarter, SEMO would rush out to a 17-point lead before TTU would get their first and only points in the second quarter on a FG. Both teams were held scoreless in the 3rd before SEMO blew things open with two more TDs.
Southeast Missouri State – 31
Tennessee Tech – 3
Eastern Kentucky at Jacksonville State
JSU QB Bryan Horn threw for 158 yards and 1 TD while running for 73 yards and 2 TDs. S Marlon Bridges had an interception taken back 73 yards for a TD, and CB Siran Neal had another INT. JSU DE Darius Jackson picked up 7 tackles, 3 for loss (including 1 sack), 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery…the combined performance of which earned him the OVC Defensive Player of the Week award. Kicker Cade Stinnett hit FGs from 24 and 46 yards out and 5/5 on FGs. EKU QB Tim Boyle had 186 yards and 1 TD, but also 2 INTs. EKU DB Kobie Grace led the Colonels with 9 tackles including 1 for loss and 2 pass breakups.
The Gamecocks had a huge first half, outscoring Eastern Kentucky 31-3 and was pretty much able to coast along from there. The Colonels picked up their first TD late in the 3rd quarter which was followed up by another JSU TD early in the 4th. EKU did run for a couple more TDs in the 4th, but the game was pretty much out of reach well before that point.
Eastern Kentucky – 25
Jacksonville State – 41
Austin Peay at Tennessee State
AP QB Jeremiah Oatsvall ran for nearly as many yards as he passed for with 85 passing and 82 rushing. All of the Governors scores came on rushing TDs, courtesy of RBs Ahmaad Tanner and Prince Momodu, and WR Kentel Williams. LB Gunnar Scholato led the team with 8 tackles (2.5 for loss) and DE Jaison Williams had a great performance with 7 tackles including 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble. Tennessee State QB Michael Hughes had 148 yards and 1 passing TD to WR DeVon Johnson who finished the game with 91 yards. TSU Long Snapper Thomas Newberg also caught his first TD pass of his college career in a successful fake FG.
A low-scoring first half saw just an AP TD and TSU FG, resulting ina 7-3 halftime score. In the 3rd, the Governors increased their lead with another TD, which TSU responded to with one of their own. In the 4th, the Tigers got their first lead of the game with a 66-yard TD pass to go ahead by 3. Austin Peay battled back and regained the lead with a TD with just over 1 minute remaining, after which they held on to seal the victory. With the Win, the Governors reached 4 wins for the first time since the 2009 season.
Austin Peay – 21
Tennessee State – 17
Next Week’s Games
2:00 PM – #4 Jacksonville State (5-1, 3-0 OVC) at Eastern Illinois (5-2, 4-0 OVC) – ESPN3/WatchESPN.com
The “Game of the Week” in the OVC sees a matchup between the two conference unbeaten teams, which will go a long way to deciding who gets the conference’s automatic playoff bid, and who has to scrape by the rest of the conference in the hopes of an at-large bid. JSU’s strong ground game and run defense roll up to Charleston, IL hoping to come away with another win, while EIU, who hasn’t been putting impressive numbers overall, has still picked up 4 conference wins on their ability to get turnovers, get defense pressure behind the line of scrimmage, block kicks, and return punts well.
2:00 PM – UT Martin (3-3, 1-2 OVC) at Eastern Kentucky (1-5, 1-3 OVC) – OVCDN
UT Martin statistically has the best defense in the OVC, but their offense has struggled, barely putting up 20 points per game on average. RB Ladarius Galloway is averaging just under 105 ypg, although the majority of those yards came in games against Ole Miss and Clarion University at the beginning of the season. They may not need too many points against an Eastern Kentucky team that has had problems on both sides of the ball. EKU has a long history of success on the gridiron, but this year doesn’t really seem to fit that mold. They do have a decent passing offense, but are fairly one-dimensional with almost no run game to speak of. Their punter is currently 5th in the FCS for punting average with just over 45 yards per punt.
4:00 PM – Southeast Missouri State (2-4, 2-1 OVC) at Austin Peay (4-3, 3-1) – OVCDN
SEMO is on a two-game win streak…against the two teams at the bottom of the OVC. They did play close in their losses to EIU and Dayton, though and in their last three games are averaging just under 11 ppg allowed. Meanwhile, AP is allowing the 4th fewest passing yards in the entire FCS and have a solid running game, putting up 235 ypg. They also have a quality O-line that has allowed only 6 sacks in their 7 games. The Governors are looking to reach 5 wins for the first time since 2007.
I think Jacksonville State‘s offense will be able to overpower Eastern Illinois, putting up plenty of points in a Gamecocks win.
UT-Martin will be able to nearly completely shut down Eastern Kentucky’s offense and get enough of their ground game going for a Skyhawks victory.
And this year’s OVC “Cinderella Story” team, Austin Peay, will pick up win #5 in a low scoring Homecoming celebration.