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No. 23 Stephen F. Austin at No. 24 Jacksonville State: game outlook, check ESPN+ to watch the Gamecocks

JSU KSU Action

Kennesaw State's Xavier Shepherd passes between Jacksonville State's Nahum Horton and Anthony Nesby during the JSU vs Kennesaw State ASUN NCAA football game football game. / Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

Pregame analysis as Jacksonville State plays host to Stephen F. Austin on Saturday:

The game

What: Jacksonville State (2-3, 0-0 AQ7) vs. Stephen F. Austin (3-2, 0-1).

Rankings: JSU is No. 24 in the STATS Perform FCS poll and No. 22 in the AFCA FCS Coaches Poll; SFA is No. 23 in STATS Perform and receiving votes in coaches poll.

When: 3 p.m.

Where: Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium (24,000).

Line: SFA is an 8-point favorite, according to Vegasinsider.com.

Radio/Online: WLJS-FM, 91.9 (Jacksonville); WRBZ-FM, 95.5 (Montgomery) WVOK-FM, 97.9 (Oxford); 98.1 (Gadsden); WKXX-FM, 102.9 (Attalla); Online: ESPN+

Four-down territory

1. Injuries, injuries: Quarterback Zerrick Cooper (hip) and safety Nicario Harper (ankle) are probable. Offensive lineman Tylan Grable (ankle), linebacker Marshall Clark (ankle) and wide receiver Michael Pettway (ankle) are probable. Running back Uriah West (shoulder) saw his first action of the season last week, at Kennesaw State.

2. No slouch opponent: Stephen F. Austin has two losses so far, but they're impressive. The Lumberjacks lost by only six to Texas Tech of the FBS. In addition, they fell by only a point to Sam Houston, the top-ranked team in the FCS. Stephen F. Austin led 20-6 late but couldn't hold the advantage.

3. Sharing the wealth: JSU has struggled to score much this season, but plenty of different players have touched the end zone with the ball in hand. The Gamecocks have 11 touchdowns, and they've come from eight different people, including Ahmad Edwards (two), P.J. Wells (two), Jaylen Swain (two), Josh Samuel (one), Zerrick Cooper (one), Matthew Caldwell (one), Damond Philyaw-Johnson (one) and Malik Feaster (one).

4. Conference counter: Though JSU has played two teams, North Alabama and Kennesaw State, that will join the Gamecocks in the ASUN next year, JSU will play its first AQ7 conference counter this season Saturday. The automatic-qualifier (AQ) arrangement for this season combines charter ASUN football members JSU, Eastern Kentucky and Central Arkansas with WAC holdovers SFA, Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian and Lamar. The winner of the one-year arrangement gets an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.

Key matchup

JSU’s secondary vs. SFA’s passing: After struggling against Kennesaw State’s triple option last week, JSU’ injury-depleted secondary must tangle with a team that averages 272 passing yards a game.

Player of the week

Umstead Sanders, senior, 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, defensive end: JSU’s defense struggled at KSU, but Sanders came away with a team-high 12 tackles.

By the numbers

70: JSU’s 27-24 victory over UNA on Sept. 18 notched eighth-year JSU head coach John Grass’ record to 70-22.

84: Cooper’s combined passing (66) and rushing (18) touchdowns at JSU. He needs six to pass Jenkins’ 89.

2002: The last time JSU played SFA, which also was JSU’s last year in The Southland Football League.

Prediction

JSU’s defense gives up 411.4 yards a game. SFA’s gives up 271.0.

Stephen F. Austin 30, Jacksonville State 21

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.