Ohio Valley Conference overlooked in FCS playoffs

Maher Kawash, Football Reporter


It is playoff time in college football, and the Ohio Valley Conference will have just one football team representing it in the FCS playoffs this season.

To not much surprise, Jacksonville State was crowned OVC champs after notching its fourth consecutive season with an undefeated record in conference play.

That marks 32 straight wins against OVC opponents and the Gamecocks are not even done yet.

Jacksonville State gears up for its first playoff game of the season as the Gamecocks get to host their matchup in the second round against Kennesaw State Saturday.

While not many people doubted that JSU would come out on top of the OVC, more than a few doubted the Austin Peay Governors coming into the season.

But, the Governors managed to prove everyone wrong, yet still came up short.

Austin Peay raveled off an impressive 8-4 season, and those eight wins should have been enough to notch a berth in the FCS postseason.

The FCS Playoff Committee did not think so though.

Despite its 7-1 record in the OVC, in which that one loss came to undefeated Jacksonville State, the Governors did not make the playoffs.

The committee credited it to a weak strength of schedule against FCS opponents.

But in reality, Austin Peay may be one of the most tested teams in the country as all of its non-conference games came against FBS teams with matchups against Cincinnati, Miami of Ohio, and Central Florida.

And that is what kept the Governors in the pool of first four teams out of the postseason bracket, as the committee was searching for more tests against FCS teams, which Austin Peay lacked.

As the regular season has come to a close, the OVC is once again left with just one representative, but other than Austin Peay, there is not much argument elsewhere.

Eastern was arguably the next best team in the conference, but had just a 6-5 record overall as well as a 5-3 record in OVC play.

It is safe to say it is a season that ends short of expectations for the Panthers though.

Unlike Austin Peay, Eastern did have its fair share of tests, facing FCS foe Illinois State as well as instate FBS rival Northern Illinois, both of those games ended in losses.

Eastern also had an FCS win over Indiana State.

Eastern’s highlight of the season may have been the first half against Jacksonville State, as an upset was looming, but a second half disappointment was a fine example of what the entire season turned into for the Panthers.

Eastern was also plagued by offensive woes as there did not seem to be a healthy quarterback under center all season long, and the offense took major hits because of it, with plenty of struggles to maintain any consistency.

The Panthers’ defense had some bright spots throughout the campaign but was often left on the field for too long due to the lack of ability to score from the offense.

The rest of the OVC was average at best with Tennessee-Martin being the only other team with a .500 record as five other teams finished with losing records in conference play.

All of the OVC despite Jacksonville State will go back to the drawing board as the journey to next season begins.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]