MONTGOMERY, Ala. | Alabama State hits the road Saturday for the second consecutive week, and will be playing their second consecutive ranked opponent when they face Kennesaw State at Fifth Third Bank Stadium Saturday evening.
Kick is set for 5 pm against the eighth-ranked Owls, with the game being carried on ESPN+ and can also be heard on the Hornet Sports Network.
Alabama State (1-1) enters the contest after splitting their first two games of the season against Tuskegee and seventh-ranked Auburn, and Saturday’s contest will be the first against an FCS school. Meanwhile, Kennesaw State (1-1) enters the contest after falling to Georgia State in the season opener before defeating Tennessee Tech on national television last Thursday.
Kennesaw State, the defending Big South champion, is the third of five consecutive opponents that Alabama State will face to open the season who either won their conference title or division title. The Owls also made a run into the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs a season ago.
This game is also the second of six consecutive games away from home for the Hornets to open the season.
“Triple option,” Alabama State head coach Donald Hill-Eley said about this week’s opponent. “You go from a game where they hold you up and pound you on the double team, to now getting you on the ground and cutting the game in half. They are very effective. You are talking about a team that went to the quarterfinals last year, and when you look at the stats they don’t throw the ball that much.
“They run the football, so it is a very physical game. But again, they are FCS and non-conference, but it gives us an opportunity to put our program against one of the top 10 teams in FCS to see how we fare. It gives us a barometer as to where we stand heading into conference play.”
Alabama State enters the weekend averaging 17.5 points per game in the two contests, and just over 248 yards per game of total offense. The Hornets are currently ranked at the top of FCS football in red zone offense at 100 percent, and will be facing a Kennesaw State defense that is 18th in the FCS in scoring defense at 17 points per game and allow 331 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the football, Alabama State leads the nation in fumbles recovered (five) and second in turnovers gained (seven). They will be facing a Kennesaw State offense that is second in the nation in total offense (467 yards/game) and rushing (344 yards per game).
“We have to play them play for play,” Eley said. “We have to find a way to stop them and slow them down. They are a very experienced team. By going to the quarterfinals, they played three or four more additional games than most teams get to play. They have a lot of experience, and they play with that experience and play as a playoff-caliber team. They don’t make the normal mistakes that you would see in a team that has just started out in the last 10 years.”
The two teams met for the first time last season with Kennesaw State winning 20-14 at ASU Stadium. After a 55-minute weather delay, the Hornets battled from a 13-point deficit and had a chance to win late with a drive that began with just over four minutes to play. Alabama State drove down inside the 30-yard line of Kennesaw State before the Owls’ defense was able to pull off the stop and hold on for the win.