JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville State released its 2021 football schedule on Wednesday, revealing a slate that will feature five non-conference games before starting its six-game run in the AQ7.
With two FBS opponents for the first time since 2012 and nine FCS games that include some of the nation’s top names, the Gamecocks’ first season in its transition to the ASUN Conference will be one of the most competitive they’ve seen.
“We are very excited about this schedule and very pleased with how we were able to put it together so quickly,” JSU Athletics Director Greg Seitz said. “Our goal is always to compete for a National Championship, and we feel like this schedule will better prepare us for that goal.”
The first step in those preparations was the move to the ASUN Conference and the creation of ASUN Football that was announced in January. As they make that transition, the three original ASUN Football schools – JSU, Eastern Kentucky and Central Arkansas – announced they would team up with the four in transition to the WAC – Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian and Lamar – to make up the AQ7. Those seven schools will play a conference schedule in the fall to determine an automatic qualifier for the 2021 FCS Playoffs.
JSU’s AQ7 schedule, which was released in late February, will feature home games against Stephen F. Austin (Homecoming on Oct. 9), Central Arkansas (Hall of Fame Day on Oct. 30) and Abilene Christian (Southerners Reunion on Nov. 6).
The Gamecocks will also play three road games in the AQ7 – at Sam Houston on Oct. 23, at Lamar on Nov. 13 and at Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 20. The 2021 AQ7 season will be a one-year transition before ASUN Football premieres in 2022.
“As we look to build the premier FCS Football Conference with the ASUN, we also wanted to enhance our non-conference schedule,” Seitz added. “There are more teams that have the possibility of being ranked among the FCS schools that we’ve had in the past and we are excited about the competitive nature this schedule presents.”
That non-conference schedule starts in front of a national TV audience on ESPN against UAB in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl on Sept. 1 and continues 10 days later at Florida State.
The Gamecocks open their home schedule on Sept. 18 against in-state and future ASUN rival North Alabama on Band Day and will then host former OVC rival UT Martin in a non-conference game one week later on Sept. 25 for Preview Day.
Oct. 2 will feature the Gamecocks’ first trip to another future ASUN rival in Kennesaw State, who they played in a five-overtime thriller in SunTrust Park in 2018. The Owls, who are currently ranked ninth in the FCS polls, will host the Gamecocks in Fifth Third Bank Stadium on the KSU campus in the final game before they start the AQ7 schedule one week later.
Of the AQ7 foes, Sam Houston is currently ranked seventh nationally, while Central Arkansas was 11th in the final 2019 poll.
Season tickets for the 2021 fall schedule will go on sale through the JSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at www.JSUGamecockSports.com/Tickets on April 1.
Date – Opponent, Site, Time
Sept. 1 – vs UAB, Montgomery, TBA
Sept. 11 – at Florida State, Tallahassee, Fla., TBA
Sept. 18 – North Alabama (Band Day), Jacksonville, 6 p.m.
Sept. 25 – UT Martin (Preview Day), Jacksonville, 3 p.m.
Oct. 2 – at Kennesaw State, Kennesaw, Ga., TBA
Oct. 9 – *Stephen F. Austin (Homecoming), Jacksonville, 3 p.m.
Oct. 16 – OPEN
Oct. 23 – *at Sam Houston State, Huntsville, Texas, TBA
Oct. 30 – *Central Arkansas (Hall of Fame Day), Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Nov. 6 – *Abilene Christian (Southerners Reunion), Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Nov. 13 – *at Lamar, Beaumont, Texas, TBA
Nov. 20 – *at Eastern Kentucky, Richmond, Ky., TBA
*- AQ7 Game