#4 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (7-1, 5-0 OVC) at #15 Eastern Kentucky Colonels (8-1, 5-1 OVC)
Saturday, Nov. 8 • 12:00 p.m. CT
Roy Kidd Stadium (20,000) • Richmond, Ky.
TV: OVC Digital Network
Series Record: Eastern Kentucky leads 6-5
Last Meeting: Jacksonville State won 68-10 (11/9/13)
Jacksonville State Last Week: W, 56-0 vs. Austin Peay
Eastern Kentucky Last Week: W, 56-42 at Tennessee State
GAME NOTES: One of the best rivalries in the OVC will take place for the 12th time in Richmond on Saturday. Despite how good both teams have been over the last decade (EKU has won 70 and JSU 69 Conference games since 2003), this year marks just the second meeting between the schools when both schools are ranked in the Top 25 at the same time (2012 was the other). Since Jacksonville State joined the OVC in 2003, the teams are nearly even with EKU holding a 6-5 advantage in the all-time series. After winning three in a row from 2010-12 (and scoring 49, 52 and 51 points in those victories), EKU lost 68-10 at Jacksonville State a season ago. In that game Jacksonville State racked up 503 yards of total offense as Eli Jenkins rushed for 120 yards and three touchdowns and DaMarcus James and Troymaine Pope added two scores apiece. The Colonels were limited to just 111 yards on the ground with Jared Sanders leading the way the 45 yards. The JSU defense recovered three fumbles, had an interception and sacked the EKU quarterbacks five times. This year’s matchup features the top two rushing attacks in the OVC, as Jacksonville State ranks fifth nationally in that category (284.3 yards/game) and Eastern Kentucky is eighth (249.6 yards/game). The teams are also 15th and 16th nationally in scoring (JSU is averaging 37.5 points/game while EKU is averaging 37.4).
SCOUTING JACKSONVILLE STATE: Jacksonville State rolled to a 56-0 victory over Austin Peay last week to win its seventh game in a row, which is tied for the fourth-longest active streak nationally. The Gamecocks offense has been clicking recently, outscoring its last two opponents 105-3. During its seven-game winning streak the program has rolled up twice as many yards as its opponents and is averaging 41.9 points/game and 545.3 yards/game of total offense. Included in that is three games with 600 or more yards of total offense including a school record 655 yards of total offense against the Governors; the team also recorded its first defensive shutout since the 2010 season against Austin Peay. Entering this week Jax State has scored a touchdown in nine-straight quarters. In addition to its national ranking in rushing Jacksonville State also ranks third in third down conversion defense (25.2%), sixth in total offense (507.6 yards/game) and 14th in rushing defense (110.0 yards/game).
Senior Max Holcombe is scheduled to make his 46th consecutive start on Saturday which will establish a new JSU career record. Saturday’s game is the third against a nationally-ranked FCS opponent for the Gamecocks.
SCOUTING EASTERN KENTUCKY: Eastern Kentucky, one of just five teams in the FCS with eight or more wins, scored a season-high 56 points against Tennessee State on Saturday; the Tigers had entered the game first in the OVC and 10th nationally in scoring defense (17.6 points/game). Quarterback Jared McClain rushed for a career-high 139 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 70 yards and a score in the win. Dy’Shawn Mobley added 139 rushing yards and three scores to reach the 1,000-yard mark on the season; Mobley currently ranks sixth nationally in rushing touchdowns (14), ninth in total rushing yards (1,061) and 13th in rushing yards/game (117.9).
Sophomore Devin Borders picked up a fumble off an offensive play and ran 33 yards for a touchdown and also blocked his Division I leading fifth kick of the season (Borders also blocked five kicks last year to lead all Division I players).
The win was the fifth on the road this season, making EKU one of just two teams in the FCS with five road wins; it is the most road victories for the team since 1990. As a team EKU is first nationally in turnovers gained (27), second in fumbles recovered (13), blocked kicks (7) and blocked punts (3), fifth in passes intercepted (14) and seventh in kickoff returns (24.97 yards/game) and red zone defense (65.7%).