The Colonels have spent most of the past month on the road.

An early-season, three-game non-conference road swing wrapped with a win over Presbyterian College.

That was the only victory EKU (2-2) was able to come up with during the trio of trips that totaled more than 1,400 miles.

"The last one was a six-hour trip," EKU coach Mark Elder said of game against Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. "So, that wears on you a little bit. We are excited to be at home playing in front of a great crowd."

The Colonels will finally be back at home today.

EKU is set to take on Tennessee State (1-3) in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams.

Kick-off is set for 6 p.m.

"It definitely wears on you after a while," EKU senior running back Daryl McCleskey said. "I like road games, but it will be good to finally be back at Roy Kidd Stadium."

EKU has not played at home since a 53-7 win over Valparaiso in the season opener on Aug. 29 -- 30 days ago.

The extended road trip wasn't easy for the Colonels.

The offense struggled in losses to Louisville (42-0) and Indiana State (19-7) and EKU trailed early against winless Presbyterian.

The Colonels seemed to get on track as they pulled away for a 35-10 win over Blue Hose.

EKU finished with 452 yards of total offense as Parker McKinney came off the bench to complete 14-of-20 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt freshman also had an rushing TD.

Oregon State transfer Conor Blount started for the fourth-straight game. He was just 3-of-7 for 38 and threw an interception.

Elder announced on Monday that McKinney would be the starter against Tennessee State.

"We are still a work in progress -- and that's always going to be the case. The offense is a new system and I think we've seen some improvement from game to game," Elder said. "We threw the ball better in this past game."

McKinney and Blount were both sacked twice last week -- and protecting the quarterback continues to be a big problem for the Colonels.

EKU has allowed 15 sacks, which ranks 117th out of 124 Football Championship Subdivision teams in the country.

Presbyterian didn't have a sack through its first two games, but had four in the first half against the Colonels.

"That's been an issue for us. It's been a wide variety of reasons there have been that many sacks," Elder said. "It's a way higher rate that we need to be successful. It's something we are addressing."

McCleskey had 138 yards rushing and a touchdown against Presbyterian College. The senior has had more than 100 yards in back-to-back games and currently ranks 15th in the FCS in rushing yards a game (97.0).

"Every game he has had an impact," Elder said of McCleskey.

EKU and Tennessee State did not play last year because of the OVC's unbalanced schedule.

But, McCleskey and the upperclassmen know how intense the rivalry is between the programs.

"It's always one of those games that both teams circle on their calendar," McCleskey said. "We know they are coming to play. Every time we clash, it is a good one."

The Tigers have won two-straight games in the series.

TSU won 45-21 two years ago at Roy Kidd Stadium and also picked up a 35-28 victory over EKU in 2016 in Nashville.

The Tigers have lost three-straight since a season-opening win over Mississippi Valley State, 26-20, on Aug. 31.

TSU lost to Middle Tennessee, Jackson State and wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a 37-31 loss last week at home to Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Tigers have just one win, but they also have the top offense in the OVC. TSU is averaging 462 yards a game.

EKU leads the league in scoring defense (19.5 points a game) and pass defense (148.2 yards a game) and is second in total defense (324.5 yards a game).

"It's our skill against their skill. Let's see who gets the win," EKU sophomore safety Joseph Sayles said.

Sayles had two interceptions last week as the Colonels limited Presbyterian to 122 yards passing.

They might need some turnovers to slow down the TSU passing attack.

The Tigers are averaging 328 yards a game through the air -- the best in the OVC.

Senior quarterback Cameron Rosendahl (1,207 yards, eight touchdowns) leads a high-scoring offense that features two of the top receivers in the nation -- senior Chris Rowland (166.8 yards a game, five TDs) and senior Steven Newbold (100.8 yards a game, three TDs).

"They are really talented. They've got a lot of skill," Elder said of Tennessee State. "They've got two of the top wide receivers in the conference. They are dynamic guys."

EKU leads the all-time series with TSU, 23-7, including 14-3 in games played at home.

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