Tennessee State and Eastern Kentucky are the two ranked football teams in the Ohio Valley Conference, but they aren't necessarily playing in the most significant games on Saturday.
It's a crossroads day in the tightly bunched title race. Jacksonville State visits Eastern Illinois and UT Martin goes to Murray State in games matching four of the five teams with 2-1 conference records.
Each team is nipping at the heels of 18th-ranked Tennessee State (6-0), the conference leader at 2-0. No. 23 Eastern Kentucky (4-2) also is 2-1 in a conference that has its top six teams separated by one-half game.
"Every week, if you win, you kind of separate yourself from the rest of the pack just a little bit more," Murray State coach Chris Hatcher said.
"You always want to control your own destiny. Of course, Tennessee State's at the top and then there's a bunch of us that have one defeat in the conference. You kind of look at it, if you've got one defeat right now, in a way you do kind of control your own destiny. Just win the rest of 'em and everything takes care of itself. But that's a lot easier said than done."
Eastern Kentucky figures to keep pace in the race by playing a home game against last-place Austin Peay. Tennessee State, off to its best start since 2001, puts its unbeaten record on the line at Southeast Missouri State, which also has only one OVC loss at 1-1 in the conference.
"If you start looking ahead, you won't be there in the end," Eastern Illinois coach Dino Babers said. "You can't do that, you've got to lock in."