NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State football team has a big challenge and opportunity on the line this Saturday night as the Tigers journey to Jacksonville State to face the nation's owner of the longest regular season winning streak in all of I-AA football.
The Gamecocks have recorded 11 straight victories dating back to last season. Jax State is 14th nationally this week in I-AA football.
The matchup is an opportunity for redemption in a couple of ways for TSU. The Tigers were defeated 34-7 by JSU at home last October in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. In addition, the Tigers are returning to game action for the first time since their disappointing 30-13 loss to South Carolina State in the Circle City Classic on Oct. 2.
TSU opened the season with a three straight wins, including an early victory in its lone OVC game. TSU is 3-2 and 1-0.
"We have had some good practices and the open week came at a good time four football team," said TSU head coach James Reese. "Our young men are aware of the challenge, but the opportunity that this game against an outstanding team presents for us."
The Gamecocks are impressive on each side of the ball. JSU averages 43 points a game while allowing just 17 thus far. In addition, JSU possesses perhaps the nation's top punter in I-AA football in senior Richie Rhodes.
The Tigers will start senior Riley Walker at quarterback in hopes of recharging the offensive unit. TSU All-American running back Charles Anthony was held below the 100-yard mark for the first time since the Tigers' game with JSU last season, a stretch of nine games.
The Tigers have been hampered by injuries, but Reese is hopeful that the players will be in the lineup this week. Among the losses were middle linebacker James Dumervil, offensive Roshaun Rowser, and receiver/returner Jarrett Morrow who all did not play in the Circle City Classic.
The game with Jacksonville State will be the first of six straight OVC games for TSU. The game will conclude a stretch that has seen the Tigers play five straight games on the road.
In addition to the being WNSR-AM (560), the game will be telecast on CSS throughout the southeast.