After a week of rest, the Tennessee State University Tigers return to the gridiron this Saturday, Nov. 5 for their final road game of the season at Eastern Illinois. Kickoff against the Panthers is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at O'Brien Field in Charleston, Ill.
TSU (3-5, 2-3 Ohio Valley Conference) is coming off a tough 33-22 loss at Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 22. Offensively, the Tigers put together 408 total yards, but turned the ball over three times resulting in 21 points for EKU.
The EIU Panthers (2-7, 1-6 OVC) picked up a 19-10 victory at Austin Peay last weekend. Eastern Illinois secured their first win since knocking off Illinois State on Sept. 1.
Saturday marks the final home game for EIU legendary coach Bob Spoo. Coach Spoo spent 25 years at EIU and is retiring after the season.
Last season, EIU knocked off the Tigers 31-28 in overtime at LP Field. The Panthers hold a slight 8-6 advantage in the series that began in 1982.
A strong offensive attack has been TSU's success this season. The Tigers rank 18th nationally in total offense, averaging 424 yards a game.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael German has contributed to that success with 88 completions for 1,264 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games this season. German completed a streak of 137 pass attempts without throwing an interception before it ended at EKU. The quarterback is currently listed on the Fathead.com Jerry Rice Award (Freshman of the Year) Watch List.
The running back tandem of Trabis Ward and Dante' Thomas averages 178 yards a game. Ward, a Fort Lauderdale native, leads TSU with 619 yards and seven touchdowns.
Thomas ranks fifth all-time in career rushing totals with 1,661 yards in 31 games played. The tailback has notched 520 yards and six touchdowns in eight contests this year.
The trifecta of receivers has been important to TSU's passing game. Devin Wilson, Calvin McNairl and Travis James have combined for 1,438 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
McNairl, a former running back, quarterback and now wideout for TSU, has amassed 3,439 all-purpose yards with 32 touchdowns in his illustrious four-year career.
Defensively, the Tigers are led by stalwart linebacker Rico Council. The senior has a team-high 67 tackles with 5.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. He has 276 career tackles, ranking only behind Head Coach Rod Reed's (1985-88) mark of 406 tackles.
Joseph Wylie and Daniel Fitzpatrick have combined for 100 tackles in eight games this year.
On special teams, kicker Jamin Godfrey and punter Matt Moseley have put together strong performances. Godfrey leads the OVC with 1.75 field goals per game and 9.00 points per game. He is tied for third and 10th nationally in those categories.
Moseley, a freshman from Franklin, was named National Punter of the Week after posting an average of 50.8 yards at EKU. Moseley is 41st nationally with a 39.54 punting average.
EIU is led by sophomore quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who ranks 28th in the FCS with a 141.3 passing efficiency rating. The signal caller has completed 181 passes for 2,219 yards in nine games this season.
Senior linebacker Cory Leman leads the Panthers defense with 87 tackles this season.
Saturday's kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. The Aristocrat of Bands will perform at halftime at O'Brien Field. Fans who are unable to attend, can listen to the broadcast on The Big Blue Sports Network (102.1 FM - Nashville, 101.9 FM - Clarksville, 94.7 FM - Bolivar/Jackson).
-- TSU Tigers --