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CSN Inside the OVC: Bouncing Ball

floated rightBy James D. Horne, CSN Inside the OVC Columnist

Had the ball bounced differently, No. 22 Eastern Kentucky would have joined fellow FCS brethren No. 6 William & Mary, No. 3 Villanova, and No. 1 Richmond with victories over big brother FBS programs.

But the Colonels couldn’t quite pull it off and lost a close one to Big 10 member Indiana 19-13 last Thursday.


“I felt bad for the kids to come that close to doing something special in beating an FBS opponent,” EKU coach Dean Hood said on Tuesday’s OVC football coaches conference call. “I just felt bad for the kids to come up short, but I’m really proud of them. You don’t get too many chances to play on TV, and we came out and played good, hard football. I liked how physical we were, how we ran the ball and how well we played.”

EKU and No. 23 Jacksonville State were just two of the three losses OVC schools suffered last week and those were to FBS programs. JSU fell to FBS No. 15 Georgia Tech 37-17.

Tennessee’s State’s 24-7 defeat to Alabama A&M was the other loss and the only one to an FCS program.

What was most impressive to league coaches was the amount of points the membership produced in going 5-3 to open the season.

Southeast Missouri scored 72 points, Murray State rattled off 66 and UT Martin chipped in 56 in their victories. Meanwhile, Eastern Illinois looked impressive in its 31-6 drubbing of Illinois State and Austin Peay ran well in getting its 34-23 victory over pesky Newberry College.

“I think this league has gotten better top to bottom,” EIU coach Bob Spoo said. “I think we’re getting some much-needed respect. I anticipated the league would do well this week. It’s probably the strongest in my time. It’s great.”

Tennessee Tech will get its season started Thursday when it hosts Pikeville College.

“SEMO put up 58-0 at half. When we played SEMO they played one (a lower level team) last year and had to go to overtime to win it. They looked so different this year,” Tech coach Watson Brown said. “EKU really impresses and Jacksonville State played well against Georgia Tech. The EIU score surprised me, too, but Illinois State is always a strong program. But right across the board the league looks strong. We have two in the top 25, and I think there will be more. Some will jump in and others jump out, but I think it’s going to be a great year.”

BIG-TIME RUNNERS: Neither APSU’s Ryan White or Terrence Holt won the OVC Player of the Week award, but no two players did as much for their team as they did.

White rushed for 210 yards, and Holt added another 152 and two touchdowns in the Govs’ 34-23 victory over Newberry College Saturday.

White’s rushing puts him second in all of FCS football, while Holt is ranked first in all-purpose yards with 288.

“They (Newberry) loaded up the line,” APSU coach Rick Christophel said. “We knew we could break it if we could make plays, and we did. We had some opportunities to throw the ball, but we didn’t really hit anything until the end. The guys up front did well. We had too many turnovers, but I’m proud of what we did.”

GLUTTONS FOR PUNISHMENT: Jacksonville State isn’t trying to gain membership to the ACC, but it sure seems like it.

After facing Georgia Tech last week, the Gamecocks now head to face Florida State this week. The money earned for playing these games is nice, but it’s certainly a daunting task for a FCS program.

“We ought to be making a whole a lot more money for this, because they are not just Division I teams, they are really good football teams,” JSU coach Jack Crow said. “Georgia Tech was the best offensive team in the ACC last year and they’re better this year.

“They’ve got NFL players flying around and FSU has more. These games are supposed to relieve some our financial burden, but we didn’t make enough. If you want to find out how good you are you play against teams you know are good, but it’s hard to do back to back. I scrolled (the FBS) top 25 (schedule) and there was only one team to come up two weeks a row and that’s JSU.”

Last Week’s OVC results
UT Martin 56, Iowa Wesleyan 0
Southeast Missouri 72, Quincy 3
Indiana 19, Eastern Kentucky 13
Eastern Illinois 31, Illinois State 6
Murray State 66, Kentucky Wesleyan 10
Georgia Tech 37, Jacksonville State 17
Alabama A&M 24, Tennessee State 7
Austin Peay 34, Newberry 23

This Week in the OVC

Thursday’s Game
Pikeville at Tennessee Tech, 7 p.m. (OVCSports.TV)

Saturday’s Games
Eastern Illinois at Indiana State, 11 a.m. (OVCSports.TV)
Austin Peay at Youngstown State, 3 p.m.
UT Martin at Missouri State, 3 p.m.
No. 21/23 (FCS) Jacksonville State at No. 17/18 (FBS) Florida State, 5 p.m. (ESPN360)
Murray State at North Carolina State, 5 p.m.
Tennessee State vs. Jackson State, (at Memphis, Tenn.) 6 p.m.
Southeast Missouri at Cincinnati, 6:30 p.m. (Fox Sports O hio)


Thursday’s Game

Pikeville College Bears (0-1, 0-0 Mid-South) at Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (0-0, 0-0 OVC); Tucker Stadium (16,500), Cookeville, Tenn.
QUICK HITTER: Thursday’s matchup is the first between the two teams. Tennessee Tech is looking to snap a seven-game losing streak dating until the end of last season.
THE PREDICTION: Tech 45, Pikeville 10

Saturday’s Games

Eastern Illinois Panthers (1-0, 0-0 OVC) at Indiana State Sycamores (0-2, 0-0 MVFC); Memorial Stadium (12,464), Terre Haute, Ind.
QUICK HITTER: This will be the 83rd meeting between the schools separated by just over 50 miles, and EIU leads all-time 41-37-4. The teams have played every ye ar since 2000 and in 27 of the last 29 years, but the series is not being renewed after this year. EIU has won the last four in a row, including a 38-3 victory at home in 2008.

Austin Peay Governors (1-0, 0-0 OVC) at Youngstown State Penguins (0-1, 0-0 MVFC); Stambaugh Stadium (20,630), Youngstown, Ohio
QUICK HITTER: The two teams have played eight previous times but not since a 20- 18 Youngstown victory in 1987, the last season that YSU was a member of the OVC. YSU leads all-time 6-2.

UT Martin Skyhawks (1-0, 0-0 OVC) at Missouri State Bears (0-1, 0-0 MVFC); Plaster Field (16,300), Springfield, Mo.
QUICK HITTER: Missouri State and UT Martin are playing for the sixth time and the second time in the last three seasons. Missouri State has won all five prior meetings by a margin of 231-78.

No. 21/23 (FCS) Jacksonville State Gamecocks (0-1, 0-0 OVC) at No. 17/18 (FBS) Florida State Seminoles (0-0, 0-1 ACC); Doak Campbell Stadium (82,300), Tallahassee, Fla.
QUICK HITTER: Jax State won the only other time the teams met, a 7-0 victory during the 1947 season.

Murray State Racers (1-0, 0-0 OVC) at North Carolina State Wolfpack (0-1, 0-0 OVC); Carter-Finley Stadium (60,000), Raleigh, N.C.
QUICK HITTER: Murray State travels to North Carolina State on Saturday for the first meeting between the schools.

Tennessee State Tigers (0-1, 0-0 OVC) vs. Jackson State Tigers (0-1, 0-0 SWAC);
20th Annual Southern Heritage Classic, Liberty Bowl (62,380), Memphis, Tenn.
QUICK HITTER: This marks the 16th straight year (and 18th overall) that the teams have squared off in this Classic that began in 1990. TSU won last year 34-20 and ran its streak to six straight. TSU leads all-time 26-11-2.

Southeast Missouri Redhawks (1-0, 0-0 OVC) at Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0, 1-0 Big East); Nippert Stadium (35,000), Cincinnati, Ohio
QUICK HITTER: Southeast Missouri travels to Nippert Stadium to take on the Bearcats for the second time in three years. Cincinnati won the first meeting in 2007 comfortably, 59-3.