Week 4 Ohio Valley FCS Football Game Breakdowns

Week 4 OVC Game Breakdowns

It’s finally here, time to see who really wants the OVC Title. Some teams already look strong, others look like strong candidates to have surprise season, and a few still have some questions to be answered. The key game features Jacksonville State traveling to Eastern Kentucky for a top 25 matchup that could impact the outcome of the OVC in only the first full week of conference games. The Tigers of Tennessee State are out to an impressive 3-0 start but will battle #21 Bethune-Cookman to test their composure. Murray State is just turning their season around and will go against Eastern Illinois who will have to put the overtime loss to Illinois State behind them so one loss doesn’t turn into two or more.


Tennessee State (3-0) at #21 Bethune-Cookman (2-1), Saturday, 4:00

Against Austin Peay last week Tennessee State trailed at halftime, but the Tigers put 25 points on the board in the second half and shut out the Govs to come from behind to win. Michael German led Tennessee State completing 27-36 for 318 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Bethune-Cookman gained over 350 total yards against the Miami Hurricanes last week. Tennessee State is off to their best start since 2008, opening 3-0.  Even while facing a tough MEAC opponent, the Tigers should be able to make it an even better start to the season.

Projection score: Tennessee State 27, Bethune-Cookman 14


#13 Jacksonville State (1-1) at #18 Eastern Kentucky (2-1), Saturday, 6:00

This is clearly the top matchup in the OVC in week 4 and one of the top in the country. Eastern Kentucky is coming off a win at Coastal Carolina where the Colonels pulled away late for a 35-17 win. Jacksonville State had last week off and hopes the rest before the OVC schedule will help down the road. Last season the Gamecocks blew a 24 point lead in the final seven minutes and watched the Colonels steal a 52-48 win which sent EKU into the playoffs. This year the game is sure to be high scoring again with both squads having stronger offenses than defenses. It’s very possible four QBs will have decent playing time with both teams running a two QB system, T.J Pryor and Jared McClain for EKU and Marques Ivory and Coty Blanchard for JSU. While the QBs are in the game don’t take your eyes off running backs Matt Denham (EKU) and Washaun Ealey (JSU).

Projection score: Jacksonville State 38, Eastern Kentucky 34


Tennessee Tech (2-1) at Southeast Missouri State (1-2), Saturday, 7:00

It’s still tough to call what kind of team Tennessee Tech really has. They beat their first two opponents, Hampton and North Greenville, without much trouble, which they should have, and then got blown up by Oregon in Eugene, like they should have. The Golden Eagles have yet to go into a game where the outcome, unless a shocker, is not already known. Still, while SEMO has faced much more reasonable opponents, just last week they couldn’t gain 100 passing yards on Southern Illinois and were held to just 11 first downs in a 14-35 loss to the Salukis. On paper Tennessee Tech should take the victory, but at SEMO and with the Redhawks ready to play better than last week, if they jump on Tennessee Tech early the Golden Eagles may experience pressure they haven’t faced yet in the season.

Projection score: Tennessee Tech 28, SE Missouri State 20


Tennessee-Martin (2-1) at Austin Peay (0-3), Saturday, 7:00

The Skyhawks could be flying under the radar in the OVC.  It’s been a few weeks since they beat FBS Memphis but their play has stayed at a productive level. Against SE Louisiana last week Tennessee- Martin held the ball for almost 40 minutes and allowed just 38 rushing yards in a 23-6 win. Austin Peay has not shown much signs of life early in the season. They’ve had a tough schedule early but last week against Tennessee State the Govs should have put up a better fight than they did. If the Skyhawks play a solid and clean game and don’t give it away, they can take the win and start 3-1.

Projection score: UT-Martin 31, Austin Peay 17


Murray State (1-2) at Eastern Illinois (1-2), Saturday, 7:30

Next to Jax State and Eastern Kentucky, this game will be big in the OVC. It doesn’t have the buildup of two ranked teams, but it will be good football between two dark horses for the OVC title. Eastern Illinois took #14 Illinois State to double overtime in a shootout that finished 54-51 with the Redbirds finally taking the win. The Panthers picked up 37 first downs against Illinois State, but three turnovers may have cost them the upset. Meanwhile, Murray State, much like UT- Martin, is going underrated in the OVC. The Racers lost to Florida State to open the season and then lost to Central Arkansas, who is a serious playoff contender this season, before finally winning last week against Missouri State. Both teams have losing records but the OVC slate is clean and starting Saturday the conference is still open to everyone and these two teams know it. This game is truly a toss-up.

Projection score: Murray State 34, Eastern Illinois 25


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