If you ask Jacksonville State head coach John Grass or any of the football players what’s the goal, they will tell you it has always been to win the National Championship. The Gamecocks are Ohio Valley Conference Champions, and that’s cool, but their eyes are on the big prize.
The Gamecocks finished the regular season with a 10-1 overall record with their only loss being to Auburn in overtime, 27-20. JSU went undefeated in the OVC and at home. Now, they have home-field advantage throughout the NCAA FCS Playoffs.
JSU are not looking to repeat the same steps they took last year. They had a bye for the first round and then a home game against Sam Houston State. They lost to Sam Houston State 37-26 in the second round.
One year later, they have another bye and another second round home game. However, this JSU team is better and a lot more focus than last season’s team. That second round loss to Sam Houston State may factor into that maturity and hunger.
This Saturday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m., the Gamecocks face Chattanooga for the second time this season. It will be the three-month anniversary between the two teams. JSU won the first match-up, which was the first game of the season. The Gamecocks came back to win 23-20. The game Saturday will be way more important than that first game. This is a playoff game and if you lose, then you’re out. If you win, then the road to Frisco will continue. The FCS National Championship will be in Frisco, Texas on Jan. 9. Three wins and the Gamecocks will be in Frisco.
Chattanooga (9-3) played in the first round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs where they defeated Fordham 50-20. The win advanced them to the second round to play JSU. Chattanooga had a strong regular season as well with only three losses coming to Florida State, Mercer, and of course JSU.
This second round match-up is set to be a good one as both teams are better than they were before the first time they played this season. Both teams know each other equally, so there is no clear advantage either way.
Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. at Burgess-Snow Field and will be televised on ESPN3.