Where: JSU Stadium, Jacksonville.
Radio: 91.9 FM (Jacksonville), 97.9 FM (Oxford)
1. Senior moments: Fourteen seniors will play possibly the final games of their JSU careers today. Half have spent their entire college careers in the program and three — linebackers Robert Gray, Rashad Smith and Brenton Tolson — have been there five years. Two (defensive back Jamill Lott and linebacker Harris Gaston), like head coach Bill Clark, are in their first year with the Gamecocks. The four-year class is 30-15 and with a win today would tie to the second-most wins and have the third-best winning percentage in the school’s Division I era.
2. Chasing records: With his next touchdown, JSU junior running back DaMarcus James will tie the Ohio Valley Conference record for rushing touchdowns in a season (21). James has scored at least one touchdown in each of the last eight games. He needs 26 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and 100 for 2,000 in his career. Place-kicker Griffin Thomas also is closing in on a school mark. With two field goals today, he will tie Gavin Hallford’s 2007 single-season record (22). The JSU defense is three sacks shy of that single-season school record (35.5).
3. Kickin’ it old school: With so many programs going to the spread and up-tempo offenses these days, SEMO gets it done with the multiple option offense of the Nebraska teams of coach Tony Samuel’s past. The Redhawks have two big backs, big linemen and a quarterback who can run and throw, so playing assignment football is key for the defense. The advantage it gives them is opponents have only one week to switch from the norm to work on them. What has hurt them is what typically hurts those type teams — turnovers in the red zone.
4. Lot on the line: The Gamecocks still believe they are in the hunt for an at-large playoff berth, but so do Tennessee State and Tennessee-Martin. TSU is idle this week and UTM plays No. 2 Eastern Illinois, a team it has beaten three straight years. The OVC has never gotten three teams in the field, which has expanded to 24 teams this year. Several games around the country will impact the Gamecocks’ viability and, of course, they will have to win today. If they don’t get a bid, it will be only the second time since JSU has been in the OVC and first since 2008 none of its fall “ball” sports — football, volleyball, soccer — has made postseason play.
SEMO fullback Ron Coleman vs. JSU running back DaMarcus James: Who is going to get in the end zone most? Both players get the ball in tight spaces. James has scored in eight straight games and has proven virtually unstoppable on direct snaps inside the 5. Coleman scored four touchdowns last week against Austin Peay with all of them coming from 5 yards or less. James had five touchdowns against Austin Peay.
Although the Gamecocks have dominated the series, games have typically been tight and always physical. The only one they have lost since joining the Ohio Valley Conference was 2007. JSU should make it six in a row in the series and then wait nervously overnight to see what the NCAA playoff selection committee has to say. ... Jacksonville State 34, Southeast Missouri 21.