Gardner-Webb Picked to Finish 2nd in Big South-OVC


NASHVILLE–
Southeast Missouri State University has been voted the favorite in the inaugural Big South-OVC Football Association preseason football poll for the 2023 campaign by the league’s head coaches, it was announced today as part of Media Day activities at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

The Redhawks, the Ohio Valley Conference co-champion in 2022 and FCS Playoff participant, received six of the 10 first-place votes and 96 points to claim the top spot in the first year of the Association. Gardner-Webb, last season’s Big South Champion, finished second in the polling with 86 points and collected two first-place votes. UT Martin, co-champions of the OVC last year, was third with 85 points and earned one first-place vote. All three members have been ranked in at least one preseason poll ahead of the 2023 campaign, with SEMO ranked as high as No. 9 in two polls.

Tennessee Tech received the remaining first-place vote and was fourth in the voting with 58 points – just ahead of Tennessee State (57 points). Bryant was predicted sixth with 48 points, followed by Lindenwood in seventh-place with 45 points. Eastern Illinois (eighth – 33 points), Charleston Southern (ninth – 30 points) and Robert Morris (10th – 12 points) round out the inaugural poll.

Charleston Southern, Eastern Illinois, Lindenwood and Tennessee Tech open the 2023 season on Thursday night, Aug. 31, while the remaining six Association members begin play on Saturday, Sept. 2. The first conference game is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9, and the regular-season concludes Saturday, Nov. 18, with the Big South-OVC Football Association champion receiving the league’s automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs.

 

2023 Preseason Poll (first-place votes)

1.  Southeast Missouri State (6)

2.  Gardner-Webb (2)

3.  UT Martin (1)

4.  Tennessee Tech (1)

5.  Tennessee State

6.  Bryant

7.  Lindenwood

8.  Eastern Illinois

9.  Charleston Southern

10.  Robert Morris