Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University Tigers will look to end a three-game skid when they host Eastern Illinois at LP Field for Homecoming 2010/Senior Night. The game will take place on Saturday, Nov.5, with kick-off scheduled for 5 p.m.
The Tigers hold a 62-12-5 record on Homecoming breaking a three-game win streak last year when they loss to UT Martin, 28-7, on Nov. 7, 2009.
The Tigers are the only team in the league without an OVC win while EIU ended an eight-game losing streak, winning in league play against Austin Peay State last week for their first win of the season.
Radio: Big Blue Sports Network (WVOL 1470 AM - Nashville, Tenn. / WOJG 94.7 FM - Jackson, Tenn. / WMRB 910 AM - Columbia, Tenn.)
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*Links will be available on game day
TSU (3-5, 0-4 OVC) and EIU (1-8, 1-6 OVC) will match-up for the 14th meeting in the all-time series with the Panthers holding the slight advantage, 7-6.
However, the Tigers have won the last two meetings, including a 21-10 win in Charleston, Ill. last year when they shocked, the then ranked No. 13 Panthers, holding the productive passing attack to 149 yards.
The win marked the second victory over an FCS ranked team after defeating No. 16 Eastern Kentucky earlier that year.
LAST TIME OUT FOR TSU
The Tigers were idle last week using the bye to get some much needed rest after falling out of contention for the Sgt. York Trophy with a 21-10 OVC loss to Tennessee Tech at LP Field.
TSU BY THE NUMBERS
TSU remains among the OVC in several key categories but continues to lead the conference in total defense (292.1 ypg), and pass defense (142.6 ypg). The Tigers are ranked second in scoring defense (20.2 ppg), rushing offense (205 ypg), pass defense efficiency (58.5 percent), interceptions (10) and sacks (24).
SCOUTING EASTERN ILLINOIS
After finishing the preseason rankings at No. 2 with four first place votes, the returning Ohio Valley Conference champs are experiencing a tough season. The Panthers picked up their first win of the season at Austin Peay State in league play, 28-10.
The Panthers are ranked either eighth or ninth in the conference in more than ten categories but are third in passing offense (198.6 ypg), punting (42.1 avg), kick-off returns (23.2), and second in pass defense (153.3 ypg) and red zone defense (73.8 pct).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Dante' Thomas leads the offense and is third in the conference with 85.9 yards per game and 5.8 yards per rush. He rushed for 75 yards on 18 touches for a 4.2 average in the loss to Tennessee Tech.
He posted a career-high in rushing (186), carries (24) and TDs (2) in the Tigers 37-7 win over North Carolina A&T. He earned CFPA D-I Performer of the Week honorable mention for that performance.
With hopes off holding the hot hand offensively, quarterback Jeremy Perry was 20-of-31 for 203 yards throwing a touchdown to Calvin McNairl in the loss to TTU. McNairl had his biggest day as a wide receiver (after moving from quarterback this year), pulling in nine passes for 131 yards and that score, which went for 84 yards.
All-America and OVC defenders, Eugene Clifford and Rico Council, lead the defense and are the Tigers' top tacklers combining for 115 stops. Clifford leads the team with 58 tackles while Council follows with 57.
Clifford is the co-leader in the OVC in passes defended (10), third in interceptions (4) and was added to the Buck Buchannan Watch List. The award is given to the Football Championship Subdivision top defensive player.
Justin Bather ranks third in the conference in passes defended with eight on the season.
Council, with 57 tackles on the season, moved up the career tackle list to third all-time with 187. He was named the OVC's Defensive Player of the Week twice this year.
For the Panthers, they are led by four preseason picks in center Willie Henderson, defensive lineman Perry Burge, defensive back C.J. James and linebacker Nick Nasti.
Three Panther defenders rank in the top four in tackles with Nasti leading the OVC with 99 averaging 11 per game. Cory Leman follows with 74 for third overall and Gordy Kickels is tied for fourth with 64. Spyros Bazigos leads the conference in tackles for loss with 29.
EIU's offense has stepped into gear behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The freshman picked up the last two OVC Newcomer of the Week titles including one for his performance against Austin Peay. In his second-straight solid start, he completed 12-of-22 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers win last week. The true freshman was productive in that two-week stretch completing 38-of-57 for 560 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception.
Other Panthers receiving OVC weekly honors include: Rashad Haynes and Kevin Cook, both were named OVC Specialist of the Week in October.
Cook earned his third career OVC Specialist of the Week (10/3) honor this year after averaging 50.2 yards on four punts against Southeast Missouri. Haynes was named on Oct. 17 after becoming the first EIU player in nearly six years to return a punt for a touchdown, scoring on a 46-yard return against Tennessee Tech.