No offense to his extended family back in Bessemer, Ala., but Kyran Moore has no plans of being home for Thanksgiving. He plans to be in Tennessee with his Austin Peay teammates next week, preparing for his school's first-ever FCS Playoff game.
[divider]COMPARE: Any Two FCS Players | Two FCS Teams[divider]
Moore, a senior, has been an instrumental part of what has turned out to be the biggest story in the FCS this year. Austin Peay first ended a 29-game losing streak in week three, and then has proceeded to win seven of its last nine ballgames, with the two losses coming to likely FCS top eight seed Jacksonville State and undefeated FBS juggernaut Central Florida. The first two games of the year were losses to FBS teams — Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio).
FCS PODCAST: Austin Peay's Will Healy
FCS TO THE NFL: The Top 2018 FCS Pro Prospects
In other words, the Governors are aiming to knock off Eastern Illinois this weekend at home, and hope that 8-1 record against FCS opponents will catch the FCS Playoff Committee's eye, as FBS losses are not used in bracket consideration. It's going to be a crowded "playoff bubble" elevator on Sunday when the FCS Selection Show airs at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU. But if Austin Peay wins this weekend, it will be one of the teams being considered.
"It's been crazy ever since we won our first game (against Morehead State in September)," Moore told HERO Sports on Tuesday. "People are now coming up saying they want to come and see us play in person. In my freshman and sophomore seasons, not many people came to our games … Now when you go around campus, people say they see what we're doing, and they'll say 'I'll be there Saturday'. It seems like it has gone from one person to 10 to 50 to 100, like that. A lot of new people are coming to our games."
Indeed. The program set an attendance record and the fans tore down the goalposts on Sept. 16 when they won. Then the program set the attendance record against on Sept. 30 with a key win over rival Tennessee-Martin, then on Oct. 21 the program set the record again — and Moore, Austin Peay coach Will Healy and many others fully expect that attendance record to fall again this weekend for the regular season finale. After being on the road for nearly a month, Austin Peay is home again.
RELATED: The 2017 FCS/NFL Rookies — How are all 45 of them doing?
Moore had only experienced one win in his Austin Peay career prior to two months ago, and you have to go back to his freshman year at home against Murray State. The program only won three total games from 2012-14 too. Moore, who played sparingly in that lone 2014 win, has seen the culture change greatly. He has enjoyed this year because it reminds him more of when he was winning games at McAdory HS — home of the great Bo Jackson. Moore quarterbacked his HS team to a state title game at Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn as a junior.
Now he's returning kickoffs for touchdowns against Central Florida and scoring clutch touchdowns on offense, whether its via the run or pass. He's seen it all in his career.
"We've been through a lot, the adversity," Moore said. "The tougher the times are, the closer that we've gotten together."
Indeed. The program is hoping for a loud crowd on Saturday. We'll see if they're as clutch as the team has been this year.[divider]
THE BUBBLE WATCH: Austin Peay fans may want to keep their eyes on the games below.
The Governors need some of these teams to lose, and there are potential losses sitting there. In our estimation, possibly four of the teams below (Austin Peay would be a fifth) will make the FCS Playoffs — depending on how this weekend goes, and how the rest of the country does.
For Austin Peay fans, they want to become Southern Utah and North Dakota State fans for sure, and probably be hoping for Albany, Montana State or Southeastern Louisiana (on Thursday night) to pull off upsets. Also, Northern Iowa and Eastern Washington won't lose and will be in serious consideration for at-large berths. Also, what happens to the loser of Kennesaw State (9-1) and Monmouth (9-1)? Do two Big South teams get in?
|FCS BUBBLE TEAM||REC||OPPONENT|
|Nicholls||(8-2)||*THURS.- at SE Louisiana (5-5)|
|Northern Arizona||(7-3)||at Southern Utah (8-2)|
|Northern Iowa||(6-4)||vs. Indiana State (0-10)|
|New Hampshire||(7-3)||at Albany (3-7)|
|Montana||(7-3)||at Montana State (4-6)|
|Eastern Washington||(6-4)||vs. Portland State (0-10)|
|Illinois State||(6-4)||vs North Dakota State (9-1)|