- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The top-rated offense in the Ohio Valley Conference will take on the No. 1 defense when Jacksonville State plays Tennessee State at 2 p.m. Saturday in Nashville.

JSU (4-1, 2-0 OVC) is averaging a conference-best 481.4 yards per game, and that includes a 244-yard output in a 45-7 loss to Michigan State in the season opener. Since then, the Gamecocks have averaged 540.8 yards per game, a figure that would rank third nationally.

Meanwhile, Tennessee State (4-2, 1-1) has given up an average of 232.8 yards per game, nearly 100 yards better than the OVC’s second-rated defense. The Tigers held opponents to seven points or fewer in each of their four victories.

“I think they are as good as anybody in the country defensively,” JSU coach John Grass said. “We have to challenge our guys to be as physical as we have been all year. I think the team that is physical and can control the line of scrimmage will win this game.”

JSU leads the OVC in rushing with an average of 262 yards per game. But when the Gamecocks played Tennessee State last year, they managed a total of only 21 rushing yards in a 31-15 loss.

“If there was one game last year that we weren’t as physical and did not win the line of scrimmage, this was the game,” Grass said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage, and it’s a helpless feeling when you get put in that situation.”

The Gamecocks have four of the top nine rushers in the OVC, led by DaMarcus James with 86.2 yards per game. But when James sat out last week’s victory over Tennessee-Martin with turf toe, Miles Jones stepped in and rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown and Troymaine Pope added 91 yards and a score.

Tuskegee vs. Morehouse in Columbus, Ga., 4 p.m.

Tuskegee (3-2, 2-0 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) will take on Morehouse (4-1, 2-0) for the 79th time in the oldest football series among historically black colleges.

Tuskegee used a 21-point third quarter to defeat Fort Valley State 35-28 last week in a sloppy game. The teams combined to commit 10 turnovers.

Morehouse, which went 2-8 last season and finished last in the SIAC East Division, is currently on a three-game winning streak and is tied for first in the East.

Alabama State at Prairie View A&M;

After playing four games in a 20-day span, Alabama State (4-2, 3-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference) is now in a stretch with only one game over 22 days.

ASU coach Reggie Barlow said the Hornets appeared tired in their most recent outing, a 33-7 loss to Alcorn State on Oct. 2 that snapped a three-game winning streak.

“You have to play with energy and enthusiasm, and our guys just didn’t have that and it showed,” Barlow said.

Following the trip to Prairie View (1-4, 1-3), the Hornets have a bye week leading into the Oct. 25 Magic City Classic against Alabama A&M.;

Alabama A&M; vs. Southern, 1 p.m.

Alabama A&M; (2-4, 1-2 SWAC) faces a Southern team that is coming off a victory, which could be a good thing for the Bulldogs, since the Jaguars have alternated wins and losses all season.

Southern (3-3, 2-1) defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 51-36 last week. The Jaguars followed up their two previous wins with two losses by a combined score of 107-43.

West Alabama vs. Florida Tech, 6 p.m.

This is an important game for both teams, since the loser will fall to 0-2 in the Gulf South Conference standings.

West Alabama (3-2, 0-1) is coming off a 26-17 loss to West Georgia, while Florida Tech (3-2, 0-1) opened conference play with a 50-28 loss to Delta State.

North Alabama at North Carolina-Pembroke, 3 p.m.

North Alabama (4-0) meets North Carolina-Pembroke (1-3) in a rematch of last year’s second-round Division II playoff game.

UNA won that meeting 37-13 with the help of five interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter that the Lions returned for touchdowns.

Miles vs. Central State, 4 p.m.

Miles (2-3, 1-1 SIAC) looks to keep the momentum going after picking up its first victory since the season-opener.

The Golden Bears held Benedict to only 15 yards rushing in a 23-13 victory last week. Central State (1-4, 1-2) has lost four in a row.

Stillman at Benedict, 2 p.m.

Stillman (3-2, 2-0 SIAC) has won three straight games and is coming off a 55-16 victory over Lane. Junior quarterback Josh Straughan was named the SIAC offensive player of the week after tossing six touchdown passes and rushing for another score.


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