Colonels meet Gamecocks in OVC clash

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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A game that’s been circled on Ohio Valley Conference schedules this fall has finally arrived.

Eastern Kentucky will face Jacksonville State on the road, in a matchup of two ranked opponents. Both teams have been ranked since the beginning of the season.

Jacksonville State was ranked first overall in the nation, which is its seventh week atop the poll. They reached the top spot, following an overtime loss at Auburn in September. The Colonels also had a close encounter with a Southeastern Conference program.

The Colonels fell to Kentucky in overtime, but had the lead late in the fourth quarter, just as the Gamecocks did. Eastern Kentucky also lost to North Carolina State for its other loss this season. The three combined losses for both teams have come against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

They’ve both been consistent in Football Championship Subdivision games this year, winning 11 combined games. Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins has never lost an FCS regular season game. Last year’s matchup also featured a pair of ranked teams, but Jacksonville State left Richmond, Ky. with a 20-6 victory.

Second time’s the charm

Tennessee-Martin will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. this weekend for a game with the 3-4 Razorbacks. This will be the Skyhawks second matchup with an SEC team this year, having lost to Mississippi the first week of the season 76-3.

Though this game will not have an impact on the OVC standings, the 5-2 Skyhawks will have a chance to do what no other conference opponent has done this season, defeat an SEC team. It’s been three years since the Skyhawks defeated an FBS opponent. In 2012 they defeated Memphis.

Meanwhile the Razorbacks picked up their second conference victory last week against Auburn. At the end of regulation the game was tied at 24. Four overtimes later, the Razorbacks pulled off the victory 54-46.

UT-Martin is familiar with shootout games. Just last week the Skyhawks came from behind to defeat Murray State 52-45. Senior quarterback Jarrod Neal was named the offensive player of the week, after throwing for 420 yards and five touchdowns. He’s already surpassed his career highs for passing yards and touchdowns.

Their coach Jason Simpson picked up his 63rd win, which ranks ninth in the OVC all-time ranks.

Game of the week

Next week’s game between Jacksonville State and Eastern has been selected as the OVC game of the week. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

If you can’t make it to the game, you can go online to Watch ESPN and click on the link that will stream the game. If you cannot find it, go to www.eiupanthers.com and click on the team’s schedule. A link that says watch will take you right to the contest.

With a victory this week, both teams will be unbeaten in conference play. The home team has won the last four games, which is good news for the host Panthers. Both teams are 6-6 in the series since the Gamecocks entered the OVC in 2003.

Jacksonville State’s 27-20 victory last year snapped a two-game series winning streak for the Panthers. Kickoff for that contest is at 1 p.m.

 

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]