This Saturday marks the beginning of Ohio Valley Conference play for the Eastern Kentucky University football team. The Colonels have a tough challenge ahead in facing No. 8 Eastern Illinois in Charleston, Ill. ESPN3 will broadcast the game beginning at 2:30 p.m.
Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky were the two preseason OVC favorites selected by the league's coaches and sports information directors. The Panthers (3-1, 0-0 OVC) have lived up to the hype with a season-opening win at FBS foe San Diego State and nearly knocking off defending MAC champion Northern Illinois last week.
Meanwhile, the Colonels (2-2, 0-0 OVC) have been up-and-down in the first four weeks with convincing wins over Robert Morris and Morehead State, but sizable losses to Louisville and Coastal Carolina. On offense, redshirt freshman RB JJ Jude is expected to get the start after posting an OVC-best 195 yards rushing last week at Morehead. Fellow redshirt freshman WR Devin Borders has picked up his game with four touchdown catches in the last three contests.
The EKU defense has struggled to stop the pass this year and that will be a major test against Eastern Illinois. The Panthers rank first nationally (FCS) in total offense (618 yards per game) and passing offense (436 ypg). On the flip side, the Colonels rank last in the conference in passing defense (294 ypg). However, EKU did produce three interceptions last week at Morehead State.
Last year's meeting between the two teams proved to be a pivotal game in the race for the OVC title. Eastern Illinois held the Colonels to a season-low 81 yards rushing on the way to earning a 24-7 win. Eastern Kentucky was also just 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) on third down conversions in that loss.
Following this game, the Colonels return home to host Austin Peay as part of EKU Athletics Hall of Fame weekend. The APSU game will be played on Saturday, Oct. 5 beginning at 6 p.m.
--Click here for EKU game notes.
--Click here for the Eastern Illinois football web site.
--Click here for EIU's game notes.
--Saturday's game can be seen on the internet at ESPN3. Click here to watch.
--Click here for live stats!
Twitter: @EKUSports, @EKUFootball, #GoBigE
--Tickets are available by calling the Eastern Illinois ticket office at 217-581-2106.
--Click here for directions to Eastern Illinois University.
--Saturday's forecast in Charleston calls for mostly cloudy skies and a high of 83 degrees.
--The Colonels are 46-19 all-time in OVC openers. From 1981-99, Eastern Kentucky won 19 consecutive league openers. Tennessee Tech ended that streak in 2000 with a 9-3 victory in Richmond. EKU is 3-2 in OVC openers under head coach Dean Hood.
--In six years under head coach Dean Hood, the Colonels are 6-9 against ranked FCS teams. Coastal Carolina, ranked No. 21 at the time, defeated EKU earlier this season, 51-32. The last time Eastern Kentucky defeated a top-10 FCS team on the road was Nov. 11, 2006 thanks to a 31-28 victory at No. 8 UT Martin.
--Eastern made a few defensive switches following the Sept. 14 game against Coastal Carolina. Senior Anthony Brown was moved from SLB to DE. Brown played defensive end for the Colonels in 2010 and 2011. Also, junior DB Brandon Stanley made his debut at Morehead State on Sept. 21 after missing the first three games with an injury.