GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University football team will take on an 11-game schedule this fall including six home contests and eight South Atlantic Conference games. (2019 Schedule)
Tusculum head coach Jerry Odom enters his fourth season with the Pioneers after guiding TU to a 5-5 overall record including a 4-3 SAC worksheet to finish tied for third place in the league standings. It marked the program's third straight top-tier finish in the SAC, a first for the program since joining the conference in 1998.
This year's schedule includes three games against teams who advanced to the 2018 NCAA Division II Playoffs. TU also takes on an eight-game SAC slate for the first time with the addition of the University of Virginia's College at Wise to the conference membership.
The Pioneers will open with a pair of games against traditional Gulf South Conference powers Delta State University and the University of West Alabama.
TU kicks off the season on Thursday, Sept. 5th with a road trip to Cleveland, Mississippi to face Delta State. This will be the second time the Pioneers and Statesmen have met on the gridiron. The inaugural encounter came in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Playoffs where Delta State came away with a 27-19 home win over the Pioneers.
Delta State posted a 2-8 record last year and are a season-removed from a 9-4 campaign in 2017 which included a run to the second round of the NCAA postseason.
Tusculum will host West Alabama on Sep. 14th for TU's home opener in the first-ever meeting with the Tigers. UWA tied for third place in the Gulf South and posted an 8-4 record to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Playoffs.
The Pioneers kick off its 21st South Atlantic Conference with consecutive road games at Limestone College and Newberry College.
Tusculum travels to Limestone on Sept. 21st to take on the Saints in the fourth meeting between the two schools. TU holds a 3-1 advantage over Limestone including last year's 37-10 win over the Saints when Jordon Shippy rushed for a school-record 258 yards. Limestone went winless (0-10) last season.
On Sept. 28th, the Pioneers travel to Newberry to face a Wolves program that went 5-6 overall last season and tied for fifth place in the SAC. In last year's meeting, the TU defense limited Newberry to 192 yards in a 14-0 shutout victory in Greeneville.
Tusculum begins a stretch of five home games over the next six weeks with back-to-back home contests against NCAA Playoff participants Wingate University and Lenoir-Rhyne University.
TU hosts Wingate for homecoming on Oct. 5th at Pioneer Field. The Bulldogs posted a 9-4 record in 2018 which included a seven-game winning streak as well as a 16-12 win over Tusculum in the season-finale to punch WU's ticket for the NCAA Playoffs. A week later, the Bulldogs would upset nationally-ranked West Georgia before being eliminated in the playoffs at Lenoir-Rhyne.
Wingate leads the all-time series with Tusculum at 14-8, but the Pioneers ended the Bulldogs bid for an undefeated season with a 25-17 victory over Wingate in their last visit to Greeneville in 2017.
On Oct. 12th, the Pioneers welcome defending SAC Champion Lenoir-Rhyne who posted a 12-2 record last season including perfect 7-0 worksheet in conference play. The Bears logged a 35-10 win over the Pioneers and have posted seven consecutive wins over TU to take a 12-10 lead in the all-time series that began in 1924.
After losing its season-opener, L-R rattled off 12 straight wins before falling in the NCAA II national quarterfinals to Valdosta State University.
Tusculum travels to UVa-Wise on Oct. 19 to take on the Cavaliers for the first time as a SAC member. UVa-Wise went 4-6 last year and tied for seventh place in the Mountain East Conference. This will be the 11th recorded meeting between the Pioneers and Cavaliers and first since 2016 when Wise posted a 13-10 overtime win at Tusculum. UVa-Wise leads the series 6-4.
The Pioneers return to Greeneville to begin a three-game home-stand starting with a non-conference clash with UNC Pembroke on Oct. 26th. Last year's contest was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. The Braves are entering its final season as a SAC schedule alliance member where UNCP plays all nine SAC opponents. Pembroke will be joining the Mountain East Conference as an associate member for football in 2020.
This year will be the sixth meeting between the Pioneers and Braves where UNCP owns a 3-2 edge over Tusculum, but TU has won the last two meetings including a 37-10 decision at Pembroke in 2017.
Catawba College comes to Greeneville on Nov. 2nd in the 24th game between the Pioneers and Catawba Indians (CAT leads 16-7). Catawba is coming off a seventh place finish in the league going 4-7 overall including a come-from-behind win over Tusculum. The Indians scored 20 points in the final four minutes to win 55-37.
Tusculum will host cross-mountain rival Mars Hill University on Nov. 9th for Senior Day at Pioneer Field. TU leads the all-time series 20-13-2 including last year's 31-28 victory at The Hill. TU jumped out to a 17-0 lead but had to hold off a MHU rally to post its second straight win over the Lions. Mars Hill finished the season with a 4-6 record and tied for fifth place honors in the league.
The Pioneers close out the regular season on Nov. 16th as TU makes the short trip to Jefferson City to face arch-rival Carson-Newman University. It will be the 49th renewal in the second oldest collegiate football rivalry in the State of Tennessee (1904). C-N leads the series 34-12-2 with Tusculum winning last year's in-state battle 41-28. It was TU's largest margin of victory over the Eagles since a 103-0 win over the Eagles in 1919.
The NCAA II Playoffs begin Nov. 23rd culminating with the national championship game on Dec. 21st in McKinney, Texas.