Austin Peay players knew after winning their first Ohio Valley Conference championship since 1977 Saturday, it would give them an automatic bid into their first ever FCS Playoffs.
That did not make the official reveal any less exciting.
“We won a championship, so yeah, you’re going to be on there, but to see our name come up on top… it’s just like, man, it actually happened,” said offensive lineman Kyle Anderton. “Two years ago, we were waiting and didn’t see it. Now, you just look up there and you saw it… We did it this year.”
As a reward for a 9-3 season, the Governors will play host to 8-4 Furman on Saturday at noon in Clarksville.
Furman lost two of its first three games to FBS foes Georgia State and Virginia Tech. Its third and fourth losses came to the Citadel (27-10) and Wofford (24-7).
The Governors and Paladins share two common opponents in East Tennessee State and Mercer. Both teams defeated Mercer, while the Paladins defeated the Bucs by one touchdown, and the Governors lost by seven.
The opportunity to be host is crucial for the Governors. Instead of planning travel arrangements and booking hotel rooms, they will be able to sleep in their own beds Friday night while the Paladins make a six-hour bus ride.
“It’s icing on the cake,” Anderton said. “Good icing helps a good cake, but getting to the playoffs was the main deal. It was the goal for us all season… The main thing was getting to the playoffs and having it at home. It’s just rewarding to all the donors we have, the fans, the fifth-year seniors who were here during the rough times. It’s an awesome opportunity. We’ve got to make sure we win. It’s going to be great.”
As far as preparation goes, head coach Mark Hudspeth and the rest of the staff got to work shortly after the matchup was announced live on ESPNU.
“[Things will be] same as always,” Hudspeth said. “Preparation, the schedule will remain consistent, and we’ll stay in our routine. It’s worked so far – no need to change.”