A pair of ranked opponents take the field in the championship game of the OVC on the gridiron in the Bluegrass State. The #10 Jacksonville State Gamecocks are on the road as they travel to face the #17 Murray State Racers Sunday afternoon with the winner earning an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. Jacksonville State rolled to a 44-23 road win over Eastern Illinois in their previous contest last Saturday. Murray State lost 34-31 at Austin Peay last Saturday in their previous game. In the all-time series between the teams, the Gamecocks own a commanding 15-2 advantage and have won the last six meetings. That includes a 14-12 home win in the most recent meeting on October 26, 2019.
Jacksonville State Gamecocks Look to Punch Ticket to FCS PlayoffsJacksonville State bounced back from a loss to Austin Peay as they put the boots to Eastern Illinois last week in their most recent game. The Gamecocks improved to 8-2 overall on the season and 5-1 in the OVC with the triumph. Jacksonville State was tied at seven in the second quarter but took control with two touchdowns in eight seconds midway through the second quarter. The Gamecocks led 24-7 and never let the lead drop below seven after that to earn the victory. Jacksonville State rolled up a 540-300 edge in total offense, picked up 22 first downs while allowing 17 and overcame a 31:06 to 28:54 disadvantage in time of possession in the contest.
•Zion Webb— Jacksonville State Football (@JSUGamecocksFB) April 7, 2021
•Now 2x Offensive Player of The Week✅
•“Accounted for 312 yards of total offense and 3 TDs in win at Eastern Illinois; passed for 249 yards and 2 scores (26, 11) and ran for 63 yards and another score” ✅#StayCocky🐓 #FearTheBeak👌 pic.twitter.com/nFXmGzZxyn
For the season, the Gamecocks have averaged 196.5 yards per game through the air on the season. Jacksonville State ran for 192.3 yards per contest while averaging 4.4 yards per carry this season. The Gamecocks put up an average of 27.8 points per contest in scoring offense while they are solid defensively, allowing 18.1 points per game this year. Zion Webb has completed 93 of 159 passes for 1,285 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions while he is fourth in rushing with 251 yards plus two scores. Zerrick Cooper is 54 of 81 for 671 yards with one touchdown and one interception while adding 83 yards plus five scores on the ground. Josh Samuel leads the team with 123 carries for 677 yards plus six scores. Uriah West (107 carries, 533 yards, five TD) and Pat Jackson (76 carries, 315 yards, two TD) are also in the mix. Dave Russell leads the team with 24 receptions for 351 yards plus three scores. Trae Berry (23 grabs, 359 yards), West (15 receptions, 182 yards, TD) and Ahmad Edwards (14 catches, 245 yards, three TD) are all solid options in the passing game. Alen Karajic is 32 of 34 on extra points and 14 of 19 on field goal tries with a long of 46 this season. Two of his five misses were blocked.
Murray State Racers Hoping to Earn Rare Win vs. Jacksonville StateMurray State was rolling along but came up on the short end last week at Austin Peay in their previous contest. The Racers are 5-1 overall and 5-1 in the OVC on the season and they look to snap their six-game skid to Jacksonville State here. Murray State trailed most of the way in a wild game with Austin Peay last week as they rallied to tie the game after trailing 3-0, 10-3, 17-10 and 24-17 before taking a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Racers gave up the final 10 points of the game, including the game-winning field goal with two seconds to play in regulation, to end up with the loss. Murray State lost the total yardage battle 447-344, gave up 26 first downs while recording 15 and lost the time of possession 31:24 to 28:36 in the contest.
On the season, the Racers are averaging 158 yards per game through the air in the passing offense department. Murray State is effective on the ground as they run for an average of 160.8 yards per game on the ground this season. The Racers are putting up an average of 30.2 points per game while they give up an average of 22.7 points a contest on the year. Murray State starts games strong as they own a 31-7 edge in first-quarter scoring on the year. Preston Rice is 66 of 130 passing for 947 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions on the year. He is second on the team in rushing with 106 yards and two scores on the season. Damonta Witherspoon is the team’s leading rusher with 100 carries for 474 yards and five scores. Rodney Castille (55 carries, 142 yards, TD) is in the mix as well. LaMartez Brooks leads the team in receiving with 29 catches for 334 yards plus two scores. Jacob Bell (16 catches, 211 yards) is the only other player with more than seven catches. Zaden Webber is eight of nine on extra points but missed his lone field goal try. Aaron Baum has hit all 12 extra point attempts and is seven of eight on-field goals with a long of 58.
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Full-Game Side Bet
This one is going to be interesting as the best chance for the OVC to earn two bids to the FCS playoffs would be for Murray State to prevail. The problem for the Racers here is that they are facing their toughest challenge to date this season. Jacksonville State is a sparkling 8-2 on the year and they own a win over an FBS program from the fall when they knocked off FIU back in October. The Gamecocks are a stingy defensive team and they are capable of making things tough for opposing teams. Murray State struggled in their toughest challenge to date last week against Austin Peay. While Jacksonville State also lost by three to Austin Peay, they were undone by six turnovers in that contest. Here, they get the job done and beat Murray State for the seventh straight time.
Full-Game Total Pick
Jacksonville State has put up some hefty point totals this season though most of their biggest numbers came in the fall against FBS programs. In the fall portion of their season, the Gamecocks saw totals of 65, 62, 41 and 29 points on the board. During the spring part of the schedule, we’ve seen Jacksonville State with totals of 37, 54, 57, 24, 23 and 67 points. Murray State has had some defensive deficiencies this year, helping inflate their totals somewhat. On the year, the Racers have seen totals of 24, 45, 67, 48, 68 and 65 points so far. Jacksonville State’s defense is capable of doing the job and the Racers may have some jitters. This one ends up falling below the mark.