A rivalry which dates back to the 1950s will begin a new chapter on Saturday.
Austin Peay and Murray State have squared off 47 times in that span, but number 48 will be under the lights at new Governors Stadium as a fresh era between the two sides is born.
The Racers (2-4, 1-2 OVC) come in with high spirits, having upset the #23 team in the FCS rankings, Southeast Missouri, last week. The double-overtime victory has created a spark at the border, while on the flip side, the Govs are looking to bring hope to the program and supporters. The APSU offense scored three touchdowns at Mercer a week ago, but after falling behind the eight ball down by 28 in the first quarter, it was too little, too late.
Kickoff will take place at 6 p.m. CT, and if you don’t plan on being in attendance, follow either @TheAllState or @corey_adams on Twitter for live updates. In addition, a full game recap will publish afterward.
What to watch for: Murray State
- KD Humphries. The Racer quarterback was nearly unstoppable last game against Southeast Missouri, passing for 297 yards on 21 completions with six touchdowns and an interception. The redshirt sophomore led a 10-play game-tying drive before regulation time ended, then delivered the winning touchdown to defeat the Redhawks. For his performance, Humphries was named OVC Offensive Player of the Week for the second-straight time. The Racers are going to air it out, with 30 or more attempts in each of the last four games, while also averaging just 31 rushing plays per game this season.
- Third down defense. It’s close, but when looking at the numbers under opponent third down conversions, Murray State ranks last. Opponents have converted 43 percent of the time against the Racers, which should benefit the Govs who struggle to move the chains — last in the conference at 21.1 percent.
What to watch for: Austin Peay
- Otis Gerron. The freshman running back has provided an instant jolt for the Govs since getting more carries. Against Mercer, the walk-on totaled 196 yards on the ground, including an 89-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Gerron sits second on the depth chart, but when the offense needs to gain a chunk of yardage up the gut, he’ll be the guy called upon. The Govs now face a Murray team who allows, on average, 258.2 rushing yards per contest. If the offensive line can hold its own, pounding the rock will be a high priority for the Govs.
- Macius in control. With a knee injury to Darrien Boone, there won’t be an assembly line of quarterbacks coming in and out for APSU. The ball belongs to freshman Mickey Macius, and unless mistakes pile up, he will be the signal caller for the entire duration. Macius is coming off a two touchdown performance at Mercer — the first scores of his career — but also threw an interception as he and his receiver were mixed up on the route. However, with another week of practice running with the number one group, watch for how Macius plays against a team that gives up 487.8 yards a game.
- Special teams. The special teams unit, at least defending punt returns, wasn’t a strength for the Govs in Macon, Ga. Conditions were ideal for Ben Campbell at Mercer on a warm day, but the Bears had a 61-yard return for a touchdown last week. Now the Racers come to town, who just so happen to have two punt returns for touchdowns this season. Another stat: APSU gives up 12.33 yards per punt return, while Murray has gained 16.2 per on returns. So, if there’s an area to watch for outside of the skill positions, the special teams department could be the key on Saturday.
Photo by Bailey Jones (The All State)