The Colonels are well-aware of their position in the Ohio Valley Conference standings with just one month left in the regular season.

And they also know the big challenges that still remain on the schedule.

"Every single game matters. When you pick up a loss in the league early, then everything matters even more. We've got a bunch of good teams ahead of us (to play)," EKU senior kicker Sam Hayworth said.

The Colonels (5-3, 3-1 OVC) are just a half game behind first-place UT-Martin (5-3, 4-1 OVC).

EKU's next two games, however, are against teams that are also in the hunt for a league championship.

That difficult stretch starts with a match-up against Austin Peay (5-3, 3-1) at Roy Kidd Stadium.

Game time is set for 1 p.m. today.

"We've just got to go out and play our best football this weekend," EKU coach Mark Elder said. "If we do that, we will be one step closer to where we want to be at the end."

With four weeks left, five teams are bunched together at the top of the OVC standings.

UT-Martin had a firm grip on first place before suffering a loss last week at Southeast Missouri.

Wins last by Austin Peay and EKU set up a three-way tie for second place.

The Colonels, Governors and SEMO are all 3-1, while five-time defending OVC champion Jacksonville State in 3-2.

After a match-up with Peay this weekend, EKU travels to SEMO next Saturday.

"We are playing for a championship. It's real," Elder said. "If we win them all, will be at least co-champions. So, we control our own destiny."

The Colonels have put themselves in that position by picking up back-to-back road victories.

EKU held on for a 34-27 win over Murray State on Oct. 19, then put together a remarkable performance in horrific conditions last week at Eastern Illinois.

Playing in a driving rain storm and with standing water covering most of the turf field, the Colonels earned an impressive 33-6 win.

Hayworth had four second-half field goals as EKU stayed in the race for a championship.

"That was one of the better performances we've had as a team since I've been here," Elder said. "Conditions were awful and we didn't allow those conditions to affect us."

The EKU defense thrived in the horrible conditions.

The Colonels allowed just 89 yards of total offense, most of which came on the final drive of the game. EIU was 0-of-15 on third downs and had 11 three-and-outs.

EKU is allowing just 22.7 points this season, the best in the OVC.

"We are a very good defense," EKU junior defensive lineman Leonard Humphrey said. "We are still working to be the best. We are not the best, yet. We want to be the best in the nation."

The Colonels will likely need a strong defensive performance to beat Austin Peay.

The Governors lead the OVC in scoring offense at 35.1 points a game. They rolled to a 58-21 win last week at Tennessee Tech and earlier this year rolled to a stunning 52-33 win over Jacksonville State.

"It's a big challenge," Elder said. "Austin Peay is an outstanding team in all three phases. They are dynamic offensively and can put up a lot of points."

The Govs have allowed just four sacks (by far the fewest in the OVC). Senior running back Kentel Williams (88.1 yards a game) is second in the league in rushing.

William and JaVaughn Craig both have six rushing touchdowns.

Craig also has 14 passing touchdowns and has thrown for more than 1,700 yards.

DeAngelo Wilson leads the Govs with eight receiving touchdowns.

"This is a very talented team we are playing this week," Humphrey said. "I can't wait to play them."

EKU senior Daryl McCleskey continues to lead the league in rushing, averaging 100.2 yards a game. Sophomore Alonzo Booth is fifth in the OVC in rushing at 64.8 yards a game.

That duo has touched the ball 234 times this season and has just one fumble (which EKU recovered).

McCleskey and Booth combined for 152 yards on the ground last week on a rain-soaked field.

"Those guys have done a great job," Elder said of Booth and McCleskey. "If they were going to cough it up, last weekend would have been the time."

UT-Martin plays host to Jacksonville State this weekend, while SEMO travels to Nashville to take on Tennessee State.

The results of those games, in addition to the EKU-Peay match-up, certainly cause another shakeup in the OVC standings.

"If we can get a win this week then we can keep this momentum going," Hayworth said.

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