The Tennessee State Tigers will take on the Austin Peay Governors Saturday in the second weekend of FCS spring football.
This will be the first game of the season for Tennessee State, which had last weekend’s game against Jacksonville State postponed. Austin Peay played Sunday, losing to Tennessee Tech 27-21.
When doing your betting online, the Governors have opened as 14½-point favorites, and the game will kick off Saturday at 3 pm ET.
Tennessee State Tigers
This will be the first game for Tennessee State since the fall of 2019, a season that saw the Tigers struggle and finish with a 3-9 record. The team’s 2019 season was defined by a lackluster defense letting the superior Ohio Valley Conference offenses take advantage.
The defense surrendered 455 yards per game and let up over 30 points in eight of their 12 games. There’s hope the defense will stabilize, with numerous players from last season returning for larger roles.
Defensive backs Nick Harper and Josh Green are the stars, as both had two interceptions. Linebacker Terry Straughter returns as their leading tackler from last season. Harper earned All-OVC Honors in 2019, so the unit will depend on his continued growth and leadership.
The offensive skill positions remain a mystery after the first spring game was postponed due to snow in Tennessee. The Tigers can feel good about three returning starters along the offensive line, including preseason all-conference tackle Cam Durley.
The starting quarterback from 2019, Cameron Rosendahl, is no longer with the team, opening the job up. There are five quarterbacks on the Tigers’ roster, and a starter has yet to be named.
Austin Peay Governors
Austin Peay played three games in the fall, losing them all, and lost last weekend to Tennessee State, putting the team at 0-4. Despite the winless record, the Governors find themselves two-touchdown favorites against the Tigers.
Yes, they lost three times in the fall, but two of the games were against big-name schools, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
As for last week, the 27-21 loss was a product of turnover luck, as Austin Peay did significantly more on offense than Tennessee Tech.
Austin Peay fumbled the ball four times, losing possession on two of them, and two interceptions. That’s four turnovers in a game, which one would hope to see cleaned up.
The offense posted 373 yards to Tennessee Tech’s 156, suggesting how strong each of their units can be. The offense runs through dual-threat quarterback Draylen Ellis, who threw for 165 yards and rushed for 49 more, scoring two total touchdowns.
Going back a year further, Austin Peay had a strong 2019 season, finishing 11-4 and ranking 10th in the nation.
While the college football odds have this with a big spread, the experience Austin Peay has from this spring and last fall should not be taken lightly. The Governors are in a better position to get in a rhythm, while Tennessee State may have some kinks to work out, most notably getting accustomed to a new quarterback.
The Tigers have some intriguing returning pieces and should likely have a better season than 2019, but I’m just not sure it starts here.
When making your college football picks, give the 14½ points and go with the Governors.