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JSU's 2020 football schedule includes first game against FBS school since 2017

JSU football teaser

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State’s 2020 schedule will feature five home games and the Gamecocks’ first game against an FBS school since 2017.

JSU will open the season Sept. 5 at Florida International, a member of Conference USA of the FBS. They’ll play at Riccardo Silva Stadium, which is listed by FIU as having a capacity of 20,000. JSU Stadium is listed as having a capacity of 24,000.

Athletics director Greg Seitz confirmed that JSU will receive a guarantee of about $300,000 to play at FIU.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to get an FBS opponent back on our schedule and we were able to do that with an opener at FIU, which will be a great destination game for our fans,” Seitz said.

JSU last played an FBS school in 2017 when the Gamecocks lost at Georgia Tech. JSU had played at least one FBS school from 2005-17.

On Sept. 12, the Gamecocks will travel to North Alabama, which is now playing in the FCS along with JSU. UNA is part of the Big South Conference.

This will be JSU’s first trip to UNA’s Braly Stadium since 1992 when the facility hosted the NCAA Division II national championship game, which the Gamecocks won that year. At the time, both JSU and UNA were members of NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference.

On Sept. 19, JSU will host Southeastern Louisiana for band and preview day. JSU visited Southeastern Louisiana this season, losing 35-14.

JSU will jump into OVC play Sept. 16 with home games against Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky and Southeast Missouri and road games at Tennessee State, UT Martin, Eastern Illinois and Murray State.

Seitz said that the new eight-year rotation for conference scheduling begins in 2020, which is why JSU is playing EKU and SEMO at home for the second straight year and making the trip to UT Martin and Eastern Illinois in consecutive years. The decision on who plays whom at home was decided by the OVC office.

“At the end of this eight-year cycle, it will balance out,” Seitz said, adding that JSU will play each OVC team at home four times and on the road four times in the eight-year span.

Also, the 2020 OVC schedule does not include any back-to-back road trips for the Gamecocks. They had to do that once this year, with consecutive trips to UT Martin and Tennessee Tech.

Good news for JSU students, whose seats face the sun — the Gamecocks won’t play an afternoon home game until Oct. 17 against Austin Peay. That game is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be homecoming. The home games before that are set for 6 p.m.

The schedule includes only three non-conference games and 11 total after JSU played four non-conference games in 2019 and 12 total contests. Seitz said that’s because of the NCAA’s FCS calendar, which allows for 11 games in 2020.

Seitz said when there are five Saturdays in November, such as there is in 2019, FCS teams can play four Saturdays and still start the playoffs on the last Saturday of the month. That’s not possible when there is only four Saturdays in November, which leaves room for only three regular-season dates with the playoffs opening at the end of the month as usual.

There will not be five Saturdays in a November again until 2024, and JSU can schedule 12 games then.

JSU 2020 schedule

Date, opponent, location, time

Sept. 5, at Florida International, away, TBA

Sept. 12, at North Alabama, away TBA

Sept. 19, vs. Southeastern Louisiana, home, 6 p.m. (Band Day/Preview Day)

Sept. 26, at Tennessee State, away, TBA

Oct. 3, vs. Tennessee Tech, home, 6 p.m. (Family Day)

Oct. 10, at UT Martin, away, TBA

Oct. 17, vs. Austin Peay, home, 3 p.m. (homecoming)

Oct. 24, at Eastern Illinois, away, TBA

Oct. 31, vs. Eastern Kentucky, home, 3 p.m.

Nov. 7, Open

Nov. 14, at Murray State, away, TBA

Nov. 21, vs. Southeastern Missouri, home, 1 p.m. (Southerners reunion)

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.