The Gamecocks, who posted the best record in the OVC last year but couldn't win the title or playoff bid because of academic sanctions, collected 11 first-place votes and 120 points by the 18 league coaches and publicists who voted when the preseason poll was announced Monday. It was the third time since joining the league they were tabbed as the favorites.
Eastern Illinois was second (114 total points), followed by Eastern Kentucky (102), Tennessee Tech (78) and Tennessee State (70), UT Martin (59), Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri tying for seventh (38) and Murray State (29).
Five teams received first-place votes, and JSU voters couldn't pick themselves.
The Gamecocks placed four players on the preseason All-OVC Team -- tight end Cory Freeman, offensive linemen Tylor Chambers and Curt Porter, and All-American defensive back T.J. Heath.
Austin Peay running back/return special Terrence Holt was named preseason Offensive Player of the Year, UT Martin linebacker Josh Bey was named preseason Defensive Player of the Year.