The FCS football season is heating up and competition is becoming fierce as more teams enter conference play. Jacksonville State is in the middle of the action this week as the 24th ranked Gamecocks travel to #21 Eastern Kentucky in a game that could be a big factor in determining the future OVC champion.
The Colonels are coming off a win against Coastal Carolina of the Big South Conference. JSU was off last week and most of the team seems to be getting back and healthy. Coach Jack Crowe announced that wide receiver Trey Smith and running back Washaun Ealey should both be back in the offensive game-plan this weekend. This only helps the Gamecocks, opening up wide receiver Alana Bonner more and allowing the young running backs Troymaine Pope and DeMarcus James to get more rest between carries.
It's possible four quarterbacks could see considerable playing time as both teams run a dual QB system, and Marques Ivory along with Coty Blanchard for JSU. Also in this game the JSU defense will get a strong dose of Matt Denham, the Colonels' star running back.
Other highly-ranked conference battles rage across the country this Saturday. #8 Northern Iowa (1-2) will head to Ohio to face the #4 Penguins of Youngstown State (3-0) who already knocked of Pittsburgh this season. The Missouri Valley Conference game will have a big impact on next week's Top 10.
In the Southland Conference, last year's FCS runner-up and currently #3 Sam Houston State (1-1) will go on the road to the purple field of Central Arkansas (3-0) against the 25th ranked Bears, who look to have an explosive offense this season.
The always powerful Colonial Athletic Association also has an enticing matchup as #5 Old Dominion (3-0) will play host to #18 New Hampshire (2-1). In the Southern Conference #17 Appalachian State faces Chattanooga. Both teams are off to rough starts with 1-2 records, and the loser of this matchup may find it impossible to make a playoff run.