CHARLESTON, Ill. – In what essentially is a playoff game, the winner of Eastern Kentucky University’s football game at Eastern Illinois University on Saturday, Nov. 21 will likely receive an at-large bid to the NCAA playoffs. The team that loses will likely see their season come to an end.
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. Eastern Kentucky is 6-4 overall and 5-2 in Ohio Valley Conference games. Eastern Illinois is also 6-4, but stands 6-1 against league teams. The Colonels are coming off a 41-34 double overtime victory at Murray State. The Panthers edged Tennessee-Martin 23-21 on the road. EIU lost its first three games of the season, including two against FCS teams, but since OVC play began Eastern’s only loss was to No. 1 Jacksonville State. The two teams have put up similar defensive numbers. EKU is second in scoring defense (25.0 ppg) and EIU is third (25.9 ppg). The Colonels allow 345 yards per game, second in the OVC. The Panthers are third at 368 yards per game. Eastern Kentucky has been better against the run while Eastern Illinois has the edge in passing defense. EIU leads the conference with 14 interceptions, but Eastern Kentucky is third with 12 picks. Both defenses are led by a lineman. Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence leads the nation with 22.5 tackles for a loss and is second with 11.5 sacks. Dino Fanti is the reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Week and has contributed 17 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks for the Panthers. Offensively, EKU has put about eight more points per game on the board (32.6 to 24.5). The Colonels average 100 yards more through the air while Eastern Illinois has found slightly more success on the ground. Eastern Kentucky holds a slight edge in turnover margin (+5 to +2). Junior quarterback Bennie Coney (pictured) has fueled EKU’s offense. He’s thrown for 250 or more yards six times in 10 games, including a school record 417 last week at Murray State. He has 23 touchdown tosses and just seven interceptions this season. Coney has thrown five touchdown passes in a game twice. Ex-UK and current Eastern Illinois quarterback Jalen Whitlow averages just 159 yards through the air this season and has nine touchdown passes compared to 12 interceptions. However, along with running backs Devin Church and Shepard Little, the trio churn out 157 yards per game on the ground and have combined for 15 rushing touchdowns.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught