Previewing Thursday’s openers for OVC football teams

The+Eastern+football+leaves+the+field+following+warmups+for+the+seasons+opening+game+against+Indiana+State+Aug.+28+in+Terre+Haute.+The+Panthers+lost+the+game+26-21.+

Ashanti Thomas | The Daily Eastern News

The Eastern football leaves the field following warmups for the season’s opening game against Indiana State Aug. 28 in Terre Haute. The Panthers lost the game 26-21.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

Eastern is the only OVC football team that has played a game so far this season.

Most of the conference starts playing Thursday night.Let’s take a look at the games scheduled for Thursday and what to expect in each.

 

Tennessee Tech at Samford, 6 p.m.

The Golden Eagles finished last season 2-5, tied for sixth in the OVC. 

They will play a Samford team that went 4-3 in a conference-only season in the spring. 

Bulldogs quarterback Liam Welch will be back this season after leading the Southern Conference in passing yards by nearly 1,000 yards. 

He completed 68.2 percent of his passes last season for 2,242 yards and 12 touchdowns in just six games. 

 

Southeast Missouri vs. No. 7 Southern Illinois, 6:30 p.m. 

Southeast Missouri was 4-3 last season in conference play and 4-4 overall, with the lone nonconference game coming against Southern Illinois. 

The Salukis were 6-4 overall last season and picked up a win against Weber State in the FCS Playoffs before losing the South Dakota State. 

Southeast Missouri will have to deal with Saluki running back Javon Williams Jr., who is listed at six-foot-two and 245 pounds and averaged 4.4 yards per carry last season. He also scored 7 touchdowns. 

 

No. 20 Austin Peay at No. 18 Chattanooga, 6:30 p.m.

The Governors are ranked No. 20 to begin the season and will face a Chattanooga team that was 3-2 last season. 

Chattanooga had the top defense in the Southern Conference last season, allowing just 247.2 yards per game. 

The Mocs offense was middling, ranking sixth in the conference averaging 321.2 yards per game. 

 

Tennessee-Martin at Western Kentucky, 7 p.m.

Tennessee-Martin finished last season 3-4 and will face a Western Kentucky team that went 5-7 last fall before playing in the Lendingtree Bowl against Georgia State. 

The Hilltoppers will be without their leading passer and rusher from last season. Graduate transfer quarterback Bailey Zappe comes to Eastern Kentucky after impressing at Houston Baptist last season, when he led the nation with 458.3 passing yards per game. 

 

Murray State vs. Mississippi Valley, 7 p.m.

The Racers nearly won the OVC last season and received votes for the FCS rankings, falling outside the top-25. They will open against Mississippi Valley.

The Delta Devils were 1-3 last season, averaging just 10.8 points per game and allowing 27.3. Their lone win was a 2-0 victory over Alcorn State.

They scored just 5 touchdowns all season and allowed 15. 

 

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]