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AUSTIN PEAY

Clarksville; NCAA Div. I FCS

Rearview: 1-11, 1-7 in Ohio Valley Conference

Route '15: The Governors haven't had a winning season since going 7-4 in 2007, they have won more than two games in a year just twice since and are 1-23 in two seasons under coach Kirby Cannon. Providing hope for Cannon and the Governors is the potential of youth (their 37 sophomores outnumber the junior and senior classes combined, and they have 40 newcomers on the roster) and the promise last year's bumps made them better. Eight offensive and seven defensive starters are back, including Ooltewah alum Mikhail Creech, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior whose experience should prove valuable for a young team.

On the horizon

Sep. 5;Mercer, 5 p.m.

Sep. 12;at Southern Misissippi, 3:30 p.m.

Sep. 19;at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m.

Sep. 26;at Eastern Kentucky, 6 p.m.

Oct. 3;Eastern Illinois, 5 p.m.

Oct. 10;at Murray State, 4 p.m.

Oct. 17;UT-Martin, 5 p.m.

Oct. 24;Jacksonville State, 5 p.m.

Oct. 31;at Tennessee State, 3 p.m.

Nov. 7;SE Missouri, 5 p.m.

Nov. 14;at Tennessee Tech, 2:30 p.m.

———

EAST TENNESSEE STATE

Johnson City; NCAA Div. I FCS

Rearview: Did not play

Route '15: Twelve years after shutting down the program for financial reasons, the Buccaneers are back. Actually, they returned last season for practice — a collective redshirt year for those on the roster — but they will play an independent schedule this season in advance of joining the Southern Conference in 2016. The only SoCon foe they'll face this year is Mercer, which returned to football in '13 after a hiatus that crossed eight decades and joined the league last season. Former Louisiana Tech and North Carolina head coach Carl Torbush has been tasked with rebuilding the Bucs, who had 95 players when they opened preseason camp this month.

On the horizon

Sep. 3;Kennesaw State, 7:30 p.m.

Sep. 10;Maryville, 7:30 p.m.

Sep. 17;at Charleston Southern, 7 p.m.

Sep. 26;Emory & Henry, TBA

Oct. 3;St. Francis (Pa.), TBA

Oct. 17;at Mercer, 4 p.m.

Oct. 24;at Montana State, 4:35 p.m.

Oct. 31;Warner, TBA

Nov. 7;at Robert Morris, noon

Nov. 14;at Gardner-Webb, 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 21;Kentucky Wesleyan, TBA

———

MEMPHIS

Memphis; NCAA Div. I FBS

Rearview: 10-3, 6-1 in American Athletic Conference

Route '15: The Tigers enjoyed their most successful season in decades in 2014 — their 10 wins equaled the victory total of the previous four seasons — and with it a share of the American Athletic Conference title, their first league championship since 1971. Much of that credit was due to Paxton Lynch, the 6-7 quarterback whose sophomore season included 3,031 passing yards and 22 touchdowns (plus 13 rushing scores). Four of the top six receivers are back. There's less of a foundation of experience on defense, where just three starters are back from the unit that held six opponents to 14 or fewer points.

On the horizon

Sep. 5;Missouri State, 7 p.m.

Sep. 12;at Kansas, 7 p.m.

Sep. 19;at Bowling Green, 3 p.m.

Sep. 24;Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2;at South Florida, 7 p.m.

Oct. 17;Mississippi, TBA

Oct. 23;at Tulsa, 8 p.m.

Oct. 31;Tulane, TBA

Nov. 7;Navy, TBA

Nov. 14;at Houston, TBA

Nov. 21;at Temple, TBA

Nov. 28;SMU, TBA

———

MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Murfreesboro; NCAA Div. I FBS

Rearview: 6-6, 5-3 in Conference USA

Route '15: Purely from a win-loss perspective, the Blue Raiders took a step back a year ago in coach Rick Stockstill's ninth season, avoiding a losing mark and gaining bowl eligibility (although not an invitation) but winning two fewer games than in each of the previous two seasons. Thirteen starters are back, which should be a plus, but there are questions to be answered. One of the biggest ones is who will take charge of the offense and take the snaps. Austin Grammer, a 6-2, 205-pound junior who started last year, is competing with freshman Brent Stockstill (6-0, 199). The coach's son played in the 2014 opener but was able to redshirt. Grammer was 221-of-338 passing for 2,557 yards, 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and he rushed for 442 yards and six touchdowns. As many as six running backs are legitimate options, but there is little experience among the receivers. Seven defensive starters return, including safety Kevin Byard (5-11, 226), who had 66 tackles, six interceptions, four pass break-ups and two forced fumbles last season as a junior.

On the horizon

Sep. 5;Jackson State, 7 p.m.

Sep. 12;at Alabama, 4 p.m.

Sep. 19;Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Sep. 26;at Illinois, TBA

Oct. 3;Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10;at Western Kentucky, TBA

Oct. 17;Florida International, TBA

Oct. 24;at Louisiana Tech, 3:30 p.m.

Nov. 7;Marshall, TBA

Nov. 14;at Florida Atlantic, noon

Nov. 21;North Texas, noon

Nov. 28;at Texas-San Antonio, 2:30 p.m.

———

TENNESSEE STATE

Nashville; NCAA Div. I FCS

Rearview: 6-6, 3-5 in OVC

Route '15: After entering last season ranked in the FCS coaches' Top 25 and starting 4-1, the Tigers stumbled as injuries mounted and close games went the other way. Three of their losses were by seven or fewer points, with a strong defense (the Tigers ranked 11th nationally in total defense) playing a big part in keeping them in games. But most of that defensive experience is gone. Just three starters are back, and seven of the eight leading tacklers from 2014 are gone. There are five starters back on offense, three of which are linemen.

On the horizon

Sep. 6;Alabama State, 7 p.m.

Sep. 12;Jackson State, 7 p.m.

Sep. 19;at Jacksonville State, 2 p.m.

Sep. 26;at Florida A&M, 4 p.m.

Oct. 10;at UT-Martin, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 17;Eastern Illinois, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24;at Eastern Kentucky, 3 p.m.

Oct. 31;Austin Peay, 3 p.m.

Nov. 7;Murray State, 4 p.m.

Nov. 21;at Tennessee Tech, 2:30 p.m.

———

TENNESSEE TECH

Cookeville; NCAA Div. I FCS

Rearview: 5-7, 4-4 in OVC

Route '15: The Golden Eagles are trying to take a step toward success after three consecutive losing seasons, although they've been just one game under .500 the past two years. The outlook is promising in that regard, with eight starters back on each side of the ball and lots of players who racked up stats in 2014 returning. One of the happiest returns for the Golden Eagles is senior linebacker Tra'Darius Goff, who received a medical redshirt after being injured last season. A second-team All-OVC choice in '13 when he was the conference's second-leading tackler and had his second consecutive season of at least 100 tackles, he should provide a defensive boost.

On the horizon

Sep. 5;at Houston, 8 p.m.

Sep. 12;at Wofford, 7 p.m.

Sep. 19;Mercer, 7 p.m.

Sep. 26;at Murray State, 7 p.m.

Oct. 3;UT-Martin, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8;at Eastern Kentucky, 7 p.m.

Oct. 17;Jacksonville State, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24;at Eastern Illinois, 2 p.m.

Oct. 31;at SE Missouri, 2 p.m.

Nov. 14;Austin Peay, 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 21;Tennessee State, 3:30 p.m.

———

UT-MARTIN

Martin; NCAA Div. I FCS

Rearview: 6-6, 5-3 in OVC

Route '15: The Skyhawks closed 2014 winning five of six games (the lone loss in that stretch was at FBS foe Mississippi State, which was ranked No. 1 at the time), and any attempt to carry over that momentum will be helped by the return of a majority of their starters on each side of the ball (six offensive, seven defensive). Quarterback Jarod Neal (6-1, 191) is back for his redshirt senior season, and that's a good thing — he completed 158 of 249 attempts for 1,880 yards last year, with 14 touchdowns against six interceptions. The team's top four receivers return, including William Tanner (6-0, 184), who led with 38 catches for 527 yards and four scores. What he needs is an offensive line that can provide consistency — just one starter returns — and for a top option to emerge at running back.

On the horizon

Sep. 5;at Mississippi, noon

Sep. 10;Bethel (Minn.), 7:30 p.m.

Sep. 26;Jacksonville State, 3 p.m.

Oct. 3;at Tennessee Tech, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10;Tennessee State, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 17;at Austin Peay, 5 p.m.

Oct. 24;Murray State, 3 p.m.

Oct. 31;at Arkansas, TBA

Nov. 7;at Eastern Kentucky, 1 p.m.

Nov. 14;Eastern Illinois, 3 p.m.

Nov. 21;at SE Missouri, 2 p.m.

All times EDT; conference games in bold

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