The Top Team in the Ohio Valley Conference the Last Three Years

This is the fifth post in our 24-part #SuperSquad series, recognizing the best programs in every single Division I FBS & FCS Conference over the last three years, as well as the upperclassmen & staff who’ve anchored them.

The Gamecocks went 10-2, 9-4, & 6-6, finishing 1st, 1st, & 5th each year in the Ohio Valley Conference, according to Hierank’s rankings.

Congratulations to the Jacksonville State Gamecocks for having the best football program in the Ohio Valley Conference for the last three years!

Special Honors to the 30 student athletes who were on the roster each of these three seasons, 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20:

Marlon Bridges, Trae Barry, Yul Gowdy, Daniel Byrd, Darius Joiner, Jacquez Payton, Zion Webb, Charles Crawford, Traco Williams, Jeremiah Harris, Dakota Chapman, Dequan Charleston, Michael Matthews, Bradley Flott, Zack Woodard, Stevonte Tullis, Christian Wafford, Phillip Russell, Jalen Choice, Josh Brady, Ty Minshew, Tyrese Slocum, Michael Shaddix, Hunter Sosebee, Darius Anderson, Ye’Majesty Sanders, Jamari Hester, Bryant Wallace, Tyre McKinney, Montrez Lang

Before getting deeper into our winners’ accolades, we’ll count down the conference runners-up, from worst-to-first:


9th

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, #245

1.9 Super Squad Rating

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles logo

Record:

8-26 Overall
5-19 Ohio Valley
0 Championships

Average Power:

28.2

Best Finish:

#205 Overall
(2019-20 Season)

Despite a last-place Ohio Valley Conference position, the Golden Eagles are a team on the ups. After atrocious 1-10 finishes in 2017 and 2018, Tech managed a 6-6 season in 2019, paving the way, hopefully, for better years ahead.


8th

Eastern Illinois Panthers, #236

2.1 Super Squad Rating

Eastern Illinois Panthers logo

Record:

10-24 Overall
9-15 Ohio Valley
0 Championships

Average Power:

32.1

Best Finish:

#217 Overall
(2017-18 Season)

Though nine positions ahead of the Tennessee Tech squad mentioned before them, the Panthers are heading in the opposite, less-desirable direction. Regressing in win-total and in overall-ranking over the three years, with a 1-11 finish in 2019 leaves this squad heading for last on this list in 2021 if they don’t muster a decent Fall 2020 season.


7th

Murray State Racers, #214

2.5 Super Squad Rating

Murray State Racers logo

Record:

12-22 Overall
9-14 Ohio Valley
0 Championships

Average Power:

35.9

Best Finish:

#203 Overall
(2019-20 Season)

Despite being 22 and 31 positions ahead of the Panthers and Golden Eagles behind them, Murray State is the first team on this list not to muster a six win season. Consistency in the back-middle of the pack, with no embarrassment seasons have earned them this spot, with reasonable potential to rise in 2021.


6th

Tennessee State Tigers, #211

2.5 Super Squad Rating

Tennessee State Tigers logo

Record:

13-19 Overall
7-15 Ohio Valley
0 Championships

Average Power:

35.9

Best Finish:

#190 Overall
(2017-18 Season)

The Tigers are the first on this list to crack the top 200 teams of Division I in any of the three seasons covered. Like E Illinois behind them, they saw a steady decline in wins and overall-rank over the three seasons, though their decline wasn’t as sharp, culminating in a 3-9 record for the 2019 season.


5th

Eastern Kentucky Colonels, #194

3.0 Super Squad Rating

Eastern Kentucky Colonels logo

Record:

18-16 Overall
13-10 Ohio Valley
0 Championships

Average Power:

40.5

Best Finish:

#162 Overall
(2019-20 Season)

Eastern Kentucky is the first on this week’s list to manage two winning seasons, and a winning record overall. Despite having their best W-L record of 7-4 in 2018, and one additional loss in the 2019 season, they too improved year-over-year-over-year, jumping over 30 positions from the 2018 to the 2019 seasons. This performance improvement is mostly-attributed to closer losses and bigger wins, which is apparent in looking at their PF-PA over the two years:
In 2018 it was -20 and then improved to +71 in 2019.


4th

UT Martin Skyhawks, #172

3.4 Super Squad Rating

UT Martin Skyhawks logo

Record:

15-19 Overall
12-12 Ohio Valley
0 Championships

Average Power:

43.3

Best Finish:

#139 Overall
(2019-20 Season)

With a seeming step-back to fourth on our list, we have a a worse overall Win-Loss UT Martin squad. So why 20 positions better for a decisive Ohio Valley fourth-place? Looking closer, you’ll find that the Skyhawks exceeded E Kentucky’s best season twice, and by over 20 positions in 2019. Even in the disappointing 2018 season where they finished 2-9, they managed to score 29 points per game.


3rd

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, #161

3.7 Super Squad Rating

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks logo

Record:

21-16 Overall
16-8 Ohio Valley
1 Championship
(Shared, 2019)

Average Power:

46.0

Best Finish:

#123 Overall
(2018-19 Season)

With a winning overall record, a winning overall Ohio Valley record, two 9-4 finishes, and a shared conference championship, the Redhawks check virtually every box on our list. That said, two Ohio Valley squads still played the three years better…


2nd

Austin Peay Governors, #136

4.5 Super Squad Rating

Austin Peay Governors logo

Record:

24-14 Overall
17-7 Ohio Valley
1 Championship
(Shared, 2019)

Average Power:

49.7

Best Finish:

#72 Overall
(2019-20 Season)

The Governors earned runner-up as the best squad since Fall 2020 by doing basically everything we just described Southeast Missouri State doing, but decisively-better. This culminated in a shared Ohio Valley Conference Title and three-game playoff-run in 2019-20. If not for a weak finish in 2018, they’d be a top contender for next year’s Super Squad title.


WINNER

Jacksonville State Gamecocks, #106

5.2 Super Squad Rating

Jacksonville State Gamecocks logo

Record:

25-12 Overall
18-6 Ohio Valley
2 Championships

(2017, 2018)

Average Power:

53.4

Best Finish:

#72 Overall
(2017-18 Season)

It’s a shame for the Gamecocks that this award hasn’t existed longer, as they utterly owned the Ohio Valley Conference from 2014 to 2018, with five championships and only one conference loss over the whole period, to a rising Southeast Missouri squad in 2018.

Success especially within the Ohio Valley Conference, plus two playoff appearances (one win), are enough to float Jacksonville State the title, despite a mediocre 2019 finish.

While it may be hard to repeat in 2021, congratulations to JSU’s coaches, staff, administrators, all players, and especially the 30 young men present on the roster all three years that contributed to this title!



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