NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State football team makes an early jump into Ohio Valley Conference play as the Tigers travel to the northwestern part of the state to play the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks Thursday. Kickoff is 7 p.m. from UTM's Hardy M. Graham Stadium.
The Tigers will be making their first trip to Martin since 1999. Due to the OVC scheduling format and UT Martin's decision to give up a home game in 2001 to play in the Coliseum, the last four games between the two schools have been played in Nashville.
TSU is off to a fast 1-0 start after defeating Alabama A&M 42-7 last Saturday in the Merritt Classic. TSU is led by James Reese, the Tigers' fifth-year head coach.
TSU features All-American running back Charles Anthony who rushed for a career-high 202 yards against an A&M defense which featured most of its starters returning from the nation's second-ranked overall defense from last season.
The Tiger defense was tops in the OVC last season. Senior defensive end Paul Thomas is a returning All-OVC performer.
UT Martin enters its new season with much optimism under the guidance of second-year head coach Matt Griffin. The Skyhawks opened the season last week with a 42-0 road loss at Division I member Western Michigan.
The teams will be playing for the 15th time. TSU holds an 11-3 lead and has won the last eight meetings, including a 41-10 decision last season.
Also coming to town will be TSU's famed band, The Aristocrat of Bands. The Aristocrats will be performing in Martin for the first time since 1995.