Sam Houston State travels to Jacksonville, Al. to take on JSU on Saturday at JSU Stadium in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Jacksonville State may look good on paper but looks can be deceiving.
The 10-1 Gamecocks penetrated through the Ohio Valley Conference, a conference with only two teams with an overall record over .500. Their only loss came against the now No. 8 ranked Michigan State Spartans back in week one.
This is the Bearkats’ second game of the playoffs coming off a 21-17 win over Southland Conference rival Southeastern Louisiana last weekend. JSU is the third rank in the FCS playoffs with a 10-1 record and received a first round bye. The winner of the game moves onto the quarterfinals and awaits the winner of the Villanova-Liberty matchup.
The Gamecocks finished 8-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Their only loss in the season was 45-7 to the Associated Press-ranked No.8 Michigan State in week one. The only other team from the OVC to make it to the playoffs was Eastern Kentucky, who lost last weekend to Indiana State. The OVC is a rather weaker conference compared to the SLC as EKU and JSU were the only two teams to go above .500 in the season.
The SHSU defense will be playing the fastest team in the nation as the Gamecocks average 83.5 plays a game. The Gamecocks have accumulated 600 or more yards in four games and is one of two FCS teams to have four players with 500 or more rushing yards on the season. Gamecock dual threat quarterback Eli Jenkins is one of eight Gamecocks to be selected to the All-OVC first-team. Jenkins has thrown for 1,619 yards and rushed for 614 yards and has a total of 16 touchdowns. SHSU quarterback Jared Johnson threw for 2363 yards and rushed for 816 yards and totaled 20 touchdowns. Johnson was a honorable mention for the SLC all-conference team, yet has better stats than the OVC first team quarterback. Gamecock running back DaMarcus James rushed for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns and was also a first-team All-OVC selection.
Reigning CollegeFootballPerformance.com national FCS defensive player of the week P.J. Hall plans to continue the strong defensive showing from this past Saturday’s win over Southeastern Louisiana.
“We plan on containing the quarterback just like we did last week,” Hall said.
The SHSU offense will be facing six All-OVC defensive players and a defense that allows only 19.3 points a game and forced 19 turnovers in the season. The Kats’ run game led by senior Keshawn Hill and transfers Donavan Williams and Jalen Overstreet have rushed for a combined 2,220 yards. All three look to have a strong offensive showing with Hill hoping to see the field as he had an early exit in last week’s game.
“They are pretty good in every position so we’re going to have to make sure that we all do our job,” Hall said.
The teams will kick-off at 1:04 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN3 at 1 p.m.