Meet the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
The preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorites just went into Jordan-Hare Stadium and AAAAAAALMOST beat the preseason SEC favorites, the No. 6 Auburn Tigers. Jacksonville State had a 20-13 lead with a few minutes left, but eventually went to OT tied, 20-20. The Tigers scored first, and this was Jacksonville State's fourth-down play to tie:
The Gamecocks take the loss, but they showed everybody that they're capable of beating anybody. Here's everything you need to know about your newest college football sweethearts.
No, they're not in Duval
Jacksonville State is in Jacksonville, Ala., about 105 miles north of Auburn and 75 west of Birmingham. Please do not confuse them with the Jacksonville Dolphins (located in Jacksonville, Fla.) or Jackson State Tigers (in Jackson, Miss.)
How big would this upset have been?
It would've been one of the biggest upsets in all of football history.
The Gamecocks would have been only the second FCS team to beat a top-10 opponent; after the loss, FCS opponents are 1-101. The one was Appalachian State over No. 5 Michigan in the 2007 season opener.
This would have been a much bigger upset. That Appalachian State team was a two-time defending national champion at the I-AA level, which made it a 31-point underdog to the Wolverines. The Gamecocks were 41-point underdogs to Auburn. That would've been the largest upset since 41-point underdog Stanford beat top-ranked USC in 2007, which is often regarded as the biggest upset ever.
Just let them join the SEC already
This wouldn't have been the first win by Jacksonville State over an FBS opponent. In fact, it wouldn't have even been their first over an SEC opponent. In 2010, the Gamecocks shocked Ole Miss, 49-48, on this two-point conversion:
That Gamecocks team was coached by Jack Crowe, who had been head coach at Arkansas while Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt was an assistant for the Razorbacks. Incidentally, Crowe got fired at Arkansas for losing to The Citadel, so what goes around comes around.
They're actually a great FCS team
They're No. 6 in the FCS poll, so you could say this was just a No. 6 team playing a No. 6 team even.
The Gamecocks went 10-2 last year and earned the No. 3 seed in the FCS playoffs. They have had a winning record every year since 2002 with three OVC titles, including one last year.
It's pronounced "Grahhhce"
Get to know Jacksonville State head coach John Grass -- pronounced "grahhce" -- who will surely be a hot coaching prospect going forward. This is Grass' first head coaching gig after 17 years at various Alabama high schools. A JSU alum, he took over as the Gamecocks' offensive coordinator in 2013 and set up the best offense in school history, breaking records in yards, points and touchdowns. A year later, head coach Bill Clark went to take the UAB job and Grass was the obvious coach to pick.
WHICH COCKY YA GOT
Here is Jacksonville State's rendition of the Gamecock:
Here is South Carolina's:
Both are named "Cocky." I'm worried about the fact that South Carolina's mascot is shedding feathers from its neck for no reason. Both have thrusty necks and grabby claws, and -- wait, is that a knife on the back of the USC Gamecocks foot
I started out this segment of this post just meaning to compare Gamecock mascots, I forgot that these were actually references to cockfighting
Big Game Gamecocks
Jacksonville State has produced a few NFL players. The one you've probably heard of is Eric Davis, the All-Pro cornerback in the 1990s who helped the San Francisco 49ers win Super Bowl 29. Their only current NFL player is Alan Bonner, a 2013 pick of the Houston Texans at wide receiver who sadly spent the first two years of his career on injured reserve.
The most prominent Gamecocks player fans will remember is Ryan Perriloux, who transferred to Jacksonville State after winning the 2008 national title with LSU. He recovered from post-championship troubles at LSU nicely, winning 2009 OVC player of the year.
If you're looking for famous non-football alumni: Randy Owen, the lead singer of Alabama, went to Jacksonville State, as did 1995 Miss America winner Heather Whitestone.