Eastern Kentucky University’s football team will have a chance to make a statement when the 13th-ranked Colonels play at No. 1 Jacksonville State University on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET and the game will air live on ESPN3. ESPN3 is ESPN's live multi-screen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of exclusive sports events annually. It is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The live radio broadcast of the game is available in the Richmond area on WCYO 100.7 FM, and can be heard worldwide on EKUSports.com. EKU is 5-2 this season and 4-0 against Ohio Valley Conference teams. Both losses came on the road against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, including an overtime loss at Kentucky. The Colonels’ five wins have come by an average score of 45-14. Jacksonville State is 6-1 and also stands 4-0 in the OVC. The Gamecocks lone loss was a 27-20 overtime set back at Auburn. JSU has out-scored its opponents 40-17 in its six victories. Jacksonville State allowed 41 points in a win at Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 26, but has given up just 27 combined in the three games since then. On Saturday, the Gamecocks held Austin Peay to seven points and 82 yards of total offense. The EKU/JSU game features the top two teams in the OVC in scoring defense (JSU 18.3, EKU 20.0), total defense (JSU 272 ypg, EKU 292.9 ypg) and rushing defense (JSU 82.1 ypg, EKU 95.1 ypg). Offensively, the Gamecocks lead the OVC in total offense (502.9 ypg) and rushing offense (279.6 ypg). The Colonels are among the top four teams in the league in total offense (412.6 ypg) and passing offense (256.4 ypg). The duo of running back Troymaine Pope and quarterback Eli Jenkins lead the JSU attack. Pope is averaging 104 yards per game and has scored six touchdowns. Jenkins has completed 65 percent of his passes, thrown 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions, and is averaging 186.6 yards per game. Redshirt junior quarterback Bennie Coney has been outstanding for the Colonels. He has completed 64 percent of his passes, thrown 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions, and is averaging 228 yards per game. He’s also ran for two touchdowns. Devin Borders has caught a team-best 27 passes for 260 yards. Joel Brown has 25 catches for 220 yards. Bryan Green has hauled in 16 passes, four of which have been for touchdowns. The Colonels have utilized five running backs at different times of the season due to injuries. All-American Dy’Shawn Mobley has been limited to 240 yards on 70 carries. Florida transfer Adam Lane has scored four touchdowns and has 198 yards rushing.
True freshman Ethan Thomas has excelled in his first collegiate season, leading the team with 411 yards on the ground to go along with four touchdowns. Linebacker Trey Thomas has a team-high 39 tackles. Noah Spence has 35 tackles including 14 for a loss. He also has eight sacks. He leads the OVC and is third in the nation with 2.0 tackles for a loss per game. He leads the OVC and ranks fourth in FCS with 1.14 sacks per game. The series between the two teams is tied 6-6. The Colonels won three in a row from 2010-12, but the Gamecocks have won each of the last two meetings. None of the three previous meetings between the two teams have been decided by less than 14 points. EKU does have three wins on JSU’s home field. Eastern Head Coach Dean Hood is 4-3 against the Gamecocks while Jax State Head Coach John Grass is 1-0 against the Colonels.