Jacksonville St. Releases 2016 Football Schedule

The Jacksonville State football team will play six home games and a tough non-conference slate in 2016, interim Athletics Director Greg Seitz announced on Tuesday. The Gamecocks, coming off the most successful season in its Division I history in 2015, will play six regular season games at home for just the second time in Division I, tying the 2005 schedule for the most home games since moving up in 1993. "The success that we enjoyed during the 2015 season and the great support from our fans was a major factor to us scheduling six home games for 2016" said Seitz. "We feel like our fans are the best in FCS football and we want to give them as many opportunities to see the Gamecocks play as possible, and against quality opponents." JSU was second in FCS in attendance in 2015, averaging 20,598 fans over eight games that featured three home playoff games. JSU led the nation in playoff attendance, averaging 22,647 fans over the three-week stretch that catapulted the Gamecocks into the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game for the first time. After posting its second-straight 8-0 record in conference play to win the school's fifth Ohio Valley Conference title and grab the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, JSU will face tough opposition early in 2016. JSU will host North Alabama and Coastal Carolina, while traveling to LSU and Liberty in its four non-conference games. An open date in week five will set up a seven-week OVC stretch that will feature four home and three road games. "We are extremely excited about our non-conference schedule," added Seitz. "We have built our schedule around some quality opponents and we feel like our fans are going to be very excited to see the Gamecocks face these traditional football national powers." The Gamecocks will open at home in a rare Thursday night showdown with former Gulf South Conference rival North Alabama at 6 p.m. on Sept. 1. JSU and the Lions, who posted a 9-3 record and a 6-1 mark in GSC play in 2015, will meet on the gridiron for the 46th time and the second in four years. JSU defeated UNA, 24-21 in overtime in 2013, the first meeting between the two since 2003. JSU has won eight of the last nine meetings and holds a 24-18-3 advantage in the series. "We heard from a lot of our fans and students that wanted us to play at least one night game, so we were are thrilled to be able to open the season on a Thursday night against North Alabama," said Seitz. "I feel like our students will help us create the atmosphere and energy that we experienced during our home playoff night games last December." JSU will then make its first trip to Baton Rouge on Sept. 10 to take on LSU. The trip to Death Valley will be the Gamecocks' second to an SEC Western Division power in as many years after they took Auburn to overtime in week two of the 2015 season. Sept. 17 will see Coastal Carolina visit Burgess-Snow Field for a 1 p.m. Band Day kickoff, the first meeting between the two FCS powers. The Chanticleers finished the year ranked No. 16 after falling in the first round of the playoffs. They were No. 1 in the FCS Coaches Poll for much of the season and were in the Top five until a loss to Liberty in the final week. Liberty will be JSU's next foe in a Sept. 24 game in Lynchburg, Va., where the Flames have been very good of late. In a 6-5 2015 season, they went 5-0 at home, including wins over No. 7 Montana and No. 4 Coastal Carolina. It will be JSU's first meting with the Flames in football. "We feel like playing teams like Coastal Carolina and Liberty will be good matchups from a national standpoint across the FCS football landscape," said Seitz. "We are extremely happy to have Coastal coming to Jacksonville this year, and I know our fans will enjoy the matchup between two teams that were ranked No. 1 for most of the 2015 season." Week five will give JSU an open date before playing seven-straight league games to finish the regular season. The Gamecocks won't play Tennessee State in 2016, when their turn in the rotation to fall off of the Tigers' schedule comes around. The quest for a third-straight OVC title begins with back-to-back home games. Tennessee Tech comes calling for a 1 p.m. game onOct. 8 in what will be a Red Out at JSU Stadium. Oct. 15 will be Fall Preview Day, when Austin Peay and JSU kick off at 1 p.m. A trip to Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 22 will set up an Oct. 29Homecoming visit to JSU Stadium from Eastern Illinois, who qualified for the FCS Playoffs in 2015 as an at-large team. Kickoff for the Homecoming/Family Day game will be 2 p.m. Back-to-back road games at Southeast Missouri and Murray State on Nov. 5 and 12, respectively, will set the stage for the regular season finale against UT Martin on Nov. 19. Also a 1 p.m. kickoff at Burgess-Snow Field, the matchup with the Skyhawks will be the highlight of the annual Marching Southerners Reunion Weekend. The FCS Playoffs will begin on Nov. 26, with the top eight seeds earning a bye to the Second Round on Dec. 3. 2016 JSU Football Schedule Sept. 1 (Thurs) - NORTH ALABAMA, 6 p.m. Sept. 10 - at LSU, TBA Sept. 17 - COASTAL CAROLINA, 1 p.m. Sept. 24 - at Liberty, TBA Oct. 1 - OPEN Oct. 8 - *TENNESSEE TECH, 1 p.m. Oct. 15 - *AUSTIN PEAY, 1 p.m. Oct. 22 - *at Eastern Kentucky, 2 p.m. Oct. 29 - *EASTERN ILLINOIS, 2 p.m. Nov. 5 - *at SE Missouri Nov. 12 - *at Murray State Nov. 19 - *UT MARTIN

(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information)


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