By Clay Ward
Eastern Kentucky (4-2, 3-0 OVC) and Eastern Illinois (3-3, 2-1) were fighting for an outright bid to claim the number one spot in the Ohio Valley Conference.The Colonels earned that top spot and ranked one spot ahead of Eastern Illinois (24th), placing 23rd in national rankings, according to Sporting News Weekly.
With the exception of Tennessee State (2-3, 1-0) having one win and zero losses in the OVC, Eastern is the only undefeated team thus far.
Southeast Missouri State (2-3, 0-2) is still looking for its first conference win. Teams defeated by the Redhawks (Indiana State, Southwest Baptist) have a combined record of 0-12.
Though the Redhawks look like a pushover, Eastern’s Head Coach Danny Hope won’t take this game lightly.
“They’re a big physical football team,” said Coach Hope.
One would wonder how the Redhawks could be 2-3 on the year with junior running back Timmy Holloman.
Holloman has totaled 655 yards on the year averaging 5.7 yards a carry. With the exception of the Redhawks’ season opener against Cincinnati, Holloman has had 133 yards or better in every game this year.
“We’ll have to play well; we’ll have to tackle well, cause they got some great offensive players,” said Coach Hope.
Southeast Missouri State has 95.4 yards passing a game, placing them last in the OVC, while 217.4 yards per game places them first.
This may test Eastern’s defense against the ground game while guarding the air. This should be taken care of as Eastern leads the OVC in interceptions again this week.
Eastern’s junior quarterback Alan Holland’s performance last week earned him OVC Player of the Week. This may balance the offense or even put a tilt toward the passing game.
Last year’s 27-21 Colonel victory over SEMO State was Holland’s coming-out party that introduced him into the world of Colonel football.
History leans heavily in favor of Eastern leading SEMO State in the series 15-2.
This is a pivotal game for Eastern. It could allow the Colonels to keep the unquestionable spot as OVC leader and give the Colonels a greater chance at the playoffs.
“Were excited about our football team right now,” said Coach Hope.
SEMO State has a chance to play spoiler to Eastern, which would give controversy to the OVC and may be the final chance to jumpstart its season toward the playoffs.
Eastern plays Southeast Missouri State at Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond at 3 p.m.