Clarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) football team could become the early favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship 2:00pm, Saturday, October 12th, at Fortera Stadium if they can beat conference preseason No. 2 pick Southeast Missouri.
It was just two years ago when the Governors football team shocked the conference and finished in second place in the final OVC standings, behind perennial champion Jacksonville State, but took a step back last year finishing 3-5 in conference play and coming in tied for sixth place.
But this year under first-year head coach Mark Hudspeth the Govs are off to a 3-2 start overall and 1-0 in OVC play having knocked off the aforementioned five-time defending regular season champion Jacksonville State a little over a week ago, 52-33, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final margin.
But if the Governors, who are coming off their bye week, can beat Southeast Missouri (4-2, 1-1 OVC) this Saturday, it would give them victories over the top two picks in the conference’s pre-season poll, keep them undefeated in conference play and earn them any tie-breakers over the top two picks to win the OVC title this season.
A win could also make the Govs only undefeated team left in the OVC, if UT Martin, who still has to face Jacksonville State and SEMO this season, loses to a much improved Tennessee Tech squad this week in Cookeville, TN.
While the Govs offense has been playing well this season, averaging 34.2 points a game – second highest scoring average in the OVC this season – is will be the Govs defense that will truly tested this week by SEMO.
While Austin Peay enters the matchup with the best run defense in the conference – and third best in the nation – giving up just 68 yards per game to opponents this season, they will face a Southeast Missouri squad that averages 211 yards on the ground per game – trailing only Eastern Kentucky — and leads all OVC school with 17 rushing touchdowns.
Two other things to look for in this week’s contest with the Redhawks is turnovers and penalties, with the Govs leading the conference in turnover margin at +5, but also lead the OVC in penalties and penalty yards, averaging 11 penalties a game for 110.2 penalty yards per game – thirty more yards per game than SEMO, who is the next highest penalized team in the conference.