Jacksonville State vs. Kentucky: Can Washaun Ealey Shock the Wildcats?

Dr. SECAnalyst IIOctober 21, 2011

Photo from AL.com
Photo from AL.com

This week the Jacksonville Gamecocks will travel to Lexington, Kent. to take on the Kentucky Wildcats.

The Gamecocks are hoping to upset their second SEC team in as many years. Last season, the Gamecocks appeared to be outmatched and outplayed as they found themselves trailing Ole Miss 31-10 at halftime.

The resilient Gamecocks, however, would mount an amazing second half comeback where they outscored the Rebels 24-3. After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, Ole Miss scored the go-ahead touchdown in the second overtime.

Ole Miss appeared to have the Gamecocks stopped and the game all but won when JSU came to the line facing a 4th-and-15. However, JSU quarterback Coty Blanchard completed a pass to Kevyn Cooper for a 30-yard touchdown. The Gamecocks would call a timeout before converting a two-point conversion and shocking the world.

Fast-forward one year, and Jacksonville State is in a similar situation. The 5-1 Gamecocks will square off against the Wildcats, who are an unimpressive 2-4. Can the Gamecocks upset another SEC team and place yet another head coach on the hot seat?

Don’t be so quick to answer no. The fact is that this is not the Gamecocks' first rodeo. In fact, two seasons ago they had Florida State against the ropes before the Seminoles would score 12 points in the final 35 seconds to avoid the upset.

There are several reasons to believe the FCS Gamecocks could upset the FBS Wildcats. For one, the Gamecocks return several starters from the 2010 team. However, they have added former Georgia Bulldog Washaun Ealey. Ealey led the Bulldogs in rushing in 2009 and 2010.

However, it is his game against the Wildcats that Kentucky fans remember best. Last season, Ealey rushed for five touchdowns against Kentucky in Lexington. 

Ealey has totaled 723 offensive yards and six touchdowns in six games for the Gamecocks. Another strong performance and Joker Phillips could have a mess on his hands.

Another issue for the Wildcats is that Jacksonville State might have an advantage on the sidelines as well. Prior to becoming head coach for the Gamecocks, Jack Crowe served as offensive coordinator for Clemson, Auburn and Arkansas. He would later become head coach for Arkansas as well.

What makes Crowe special is his ability to get his players up for big games and help them believe they can win.  Phillips, on the other hand, has not been able to even get his team up for Western Kentucky.

Kentucky comes into this week dead last in the SEC in scoring offense and dead last in scoring defense—that is a bad combination. The Wildcats will need to be creative on offense, because the Gamecocks will be.

JSU might be a FCS team, but the Wildcats are not exactly world beaters. If Kentucky has not made major tweaks during the bye week, look for another JSU national story this week.