We continue our off-season series with another Alabama school recap. Let us take a trip 76 miles east from Birmingham to the city of Jacksonville, Alabama. There we will find the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. The Gamecocks call the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) home. Historically, Jacksonville State has done well at the FCS level, becoming a mainstay in the FCS playoffs. 2019 was a down year for the Gamecocks as they finished with a .500 record. Every team has its setbacks, and 2019 turned out to be that for Jacksonville State. Let us see how the Gamecocks arrived at their 2019 record and what we can expect in 2020.
Jacksonville State began 2019 ranked in the top 10 at number six. Despite being ranked in the top 10, the Gamecocks lost their opener to Southeast Louisiana. However, Jacksonville State looked to have overcome their week one hiccup as they rattled off three straight wins. The Gamecocks then lost in week five to conference opponent, Austin Peay. With a record of 3-2, Jacksonville State won their next to conference games to bring the record to 5-2. In week eight, the Gamecocks lost their homecoming game to Southeast Missouri State. They bounced back the following week and defeated conference foe, Murray State.
With a 6-3 record, the FCS playoffs looked to still be in the cards for Jacksonville State. However, the victory over Murray State would be their last of the season. The Gamecocks lost their last three conference games to arrive at 6-6. As a result, Jacksonville State missed the postseason altogether. This was the first time they had missed the playoffs since the 2012 season. The Gamecocks hope their run of success returns in 2020.
With history on their side, Jacksonville State fans should expect to win another OVC Championship in 2020. The 2020 schedule features non-conference games against FIU, North Alabama, and Southeast Louisiana. They will play FIU and North Alabama on the road, while they will host Southeast Louisiana. Conference home games feature Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky, and Southeast Missouri State. The Gamecocks will travel to conference opponents Tennessee State, UT-Martin, Eastern Illinois, and Murray State.
While FIU plays at the FBS level, we could see an upset win for the Gamecocks. Furthermore, Jacksonville State could start the 2020 season 3-0. The only two games that the Gamecocks could lose in 2020 will be Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State. While the schedule seems easy, we could see a repeat of what happened in 2019. Due to their recent success, however, this seems like a long shot. It will be interesting to see how the Gamecocks will fair in 2020.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that Jacksonville State could finish 2020 undefeated. Worst case scenario, the Gamecocks could enter the FCS playoffs 10-1. An eight-win season seems like the basement for 2020. If Jacksonville State were to win eight games, there might be some disappointment, but the Gamecocks would still sit in good positioning to make the FCS playoffs. We have grown to expect Jacksonville State to be at the top of the OVC and host an FCS playoff game. The Gamecocks hope that 2020 is no different.
In their program history, Jacksonville State has made nine FCS playoffs. Their deepest run came in 2015 when they finished runner-up to North Dakota State. 2015 was also the last time the Gamecocks advanced past the second round. In addition to this, Jacksonville State has hosted an FCS playoff game for two of the last four years. Furthermore, the Gamecocks have won 20 OVC championships. As we look ahead to 2020, Jacksonville State hopes they can hoist their 21st conference championship. The Gamecocks also hope to take their playoff success to the next level. They already lost to the Bison, however, in 2020, Jacksonville State looks to end the dynasty and bring an FCS Championship to Alabama. Let us see how far the Gamecocks can go when their season begins on Thursday, September 3rd in Miami against FIU.
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