The Eastern football team has squeaked by in all four of its Ohio Valley Conference wins with last second efforts to keep them atop the conference.
The Panthers’ win Saturday against Murray State was the fourth-straight game won by three points or less this season.
Even Eastern’s lone non-conference win came by just two points.
While that effort has been enough to improve the Panthers to 4-0 in the OVC and 5-2 overall, it also sets fans up for a remarkable matchup Saturday afternoon at O’Brian Field.
Pre-season favorite Jacksonville State heads to Charleston Saturday on Eastern’s homecoming weekend and the stage is set with two undefeated teams going head-to-head.
The Gamecocks have only played three OVC games compared to everyone else’s four and that is why Eastern has an upper hand in the conference standings for now.
While Jacksonville State tries to improve upon its 3-0 record at the hands of the Panthers, the rest of the conference is beginning to balance itself out.
Austin Peay is close behind those two teams with just one loss in four conference games with that one loss coming two weeks ago to Jacksonville State.
The Governors got back on track for their third win this past weekend on the road against Tennessee State, escaping with a 21-17 victory.
Next up for Austin Peay is a team that may be surprising many across the league as it is Southeast Missouri set to face off.
The Redhawks started the season on a seven-game losing streak dating back to last season, but have since bounced back with dominating wins over Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech.
Things may change for Southeast Missouri, though, as those two opponents were not the toughest of matchups as they sit at the bottom of the conference with just one win between the two.
The rest of the conference finds itself under .500 on the year with Tennessee-Martin and Murray State jockeying in the middle of the pact with 1-2 records.
Tennessee-Martin has an easier and quicker path to its second win though as the Skyhawks face that one-win Eastern Kentucky team Saturday.
Murray State on the other hand will enjoy a Saturday of watching football as the Racers are on a bye this week.
Tennessee State is the other team joining the bottom of the OVC, heading into the weekend with a 1-3 record and fresh off that loss to Austin Peay.
Tennessee State has a good shot to turn things around though as the team hits the road to face a winless Tennessee Tech team followed by a dip out of OVC play against Virginia University at Lynchburg the following week.
Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]