Column: Some hope still remains for season

Is it time to hit the panic button yet? Not necessarily. But these next two weeks are going to be the longest, most grueling weeks that this football team will have all season.

The Eastern football team is 0-3 and falling behind in the Ohio Valley Conference.

But we can’t panic yet because we are only one week into the OVC season, which will be the record that will matter most in the end.

The next two weeks will tell the story.

The Panthers will play two home games. Saturday, they will play Jacksonville State, a top five team in the nation.

Then, they’ll play Southeast Missouri, who is apparently no joke either.

SEMO just beat a top five team, Southern Illinois-Carbondale, this weekend by three points. So either SIU-C is not the same team we are used to this year, or SEMO is much better than a lot of people would expect.

The next two weeks, being home games especially, are going to be the two most important weeks in the season.

Forget anything in the future. Focus on these two weeks.

The Panthers were embarrassed at home last week, a 37-7 loss to Central Arkansas, and now they will have a chance to avenge themselves.

You can’t afford to be thwarted again, no matter the rank of the team you’re playing. No. Not in front of your home fans.

Otherwise, your so-called “home field advantage” is gone.

After these next two weekends at home, the Panthers will play four of their last six games on the road.

So you want to take advantage of O’Brien Field, of being at home. Of course, you’d rather be 2-3 after the two home games, than 0-5 or even 1-4.

Let’s say Eastern is 1-4 after these next two weeks. The team was 8-4 last season and competed for an OVC title. That means the Panthers would have to win every single one of their remaining games to have a chance at the OVC Championship.

There’s already enough pressure on the team as it is.

They had high expectations from the nation to begin this season. Remember, they started in the top 20 rankings before the first kickoff.

After the first kickoff, they haven’t showed that they are worth that preseason ranking.

If they are 1-4 two weeks from now, they probably still have a shot – a long one.

If they’re 0-5, the season is over – almost guarantee.

But if they are 2-3, and things start to click, they’ll be looking good.

So with the possibility of the team being 2-3 after the next two weekends at home, we can’t hit the panic button yet.

Next weekend, if the Panthers can’t upset Jacksonville State, I might be telling a different story.

But the fact that Jacksonville State upset Ole Miss in week one leaves hope that Eastern can upset somebody – namely the Gamecocks.

So don’t panic just yet. Some hope still is out there.

Alex McNamee can be reached at

581-7944 or [email protected]