Preview: Murray State at UT-Martin

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Murray State Racers (2-2, 0-0 OVC) at UT Martin Skyhawks (1-2, 0-0 OVC)
Saturday, September 28 6:00 p.m. CT
Hardy M. Graham Stadium (7,500) Martin, Tenn.
TV:...................................................................... ESPN+
Live Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=256089
Series Record:........................ Murray State leads 37-20-1
Last Meeting:................. Murray State won 45-38 (9/29/18)
Mitch Stewart at Murray State:..................... 17-31 (5 yrs.)
Mitch Stewart Overall:.............................................. same
Jason Simpson at UT Martin:..................... 81-70 (14 yrs.)
Jason Simpson Overall:........................................... same
Murray State Last Week:........ W, 59-7 vs. Morehead State
UT Martin Last Week:................................................. Idle

GAME NOTES: Rivals located just 50 miles apart will meet for the 59th time on the gridiron on Saturday night in Martin. In most years the series has ben marked by lots of offense with the winning team having scored 38 or more points in 25 of the past 26 meetings. The only low-scoring game in that stretch was a 13-10 win by Murray State two years ago (2017). The Racers made it two wins in a row (its first two-game win stretch in the series since winning 12-straight from 1993-2004) with a 45-38 win at home a year ago. In that contest each team had over 500 yards of total offense as MSU built a 31-10 halftime lead only to see the Skyhawks trim it to seven points with 3:41 to play. Drew Anderson threw for 397 yards and accounted for four touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing) for Muray State while Dresser Winn had 331 passing yards and three total touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing). Terry Williams had 11 total catches for the Skyhawks.

SCOUTING MURRAY STATE: Murray State evened its record at 2-2 with a 59-7 win over Morehead State in front of 11,921 fans at Roy Stewart Stadium. It marked the largest home crowd for the Racers in 21 years (1998). The Racers tallied 566 yards of total offense and scored on offense, defense and special teams. Quarterback Preston Rice completed 17-of-24 passes for 214 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for a team-best 86 yards on nine carries (9.6 ypc). Rice is fifth nationally in completion percentage (71.6%) and 37th in total offense (249.8 yards/game). LaMartez Brooks hauled in five catches for 130 yards and two scores. Freshman Ty Terrell returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, making him one of 11 players nationally with a punt return score this season. Defensively the team had five takeaways with four fumble recoveries and an interception. The plus-five turnover margin for Murray State was its best since 2016 and its four fumble recoveries were the most by the team since 2008. The Racers also had zero turnovers for the second time this season. Nationally, Murray State is first in fumbles recovered (8), third in defensive touchdowns (2), sixth in turnovers gained (10) and eighth in turnover margin (+1.5/game).

SCOUTING UT MARTIN: UT Martin is coming off its bye week, which followed a 28-14 road loss to Southern Illinois. In that game thet Skyhawks jumped out to a 14-0 lead after 11 minutes of game action, but they would not score again. Redshirt freshman quarterback John Bachus III completed 18-of-28 passes for 212 yards but was sacked four times. Eight different UTM receivers caught at least one pass with Jaylon Moore leading the way with four receptions for 79 yards. Peyton Logan caught three passes and led the rushing attack with 65 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Logan currently ranks fourth in the OVC in rushing (72.0 yards/game). JaQuez Akins and TJ Jefferson each had 12 tackles to lead the defensive effort. Akings currently leads the OVC and ranks 19th nationally in tackles/game (10.3) while Jefferson is 31st nationally at 9.7 tackles/game. As a team UT Martin is 11th nationally in punt returns (17.0 yards/return) and 16th in punt return yardage defense (2.0 yards/return allowed). The team is also second in the OVC and 26th nationally in red zone defense (75.0%).

The Massey Ratings predict a 31-27 UT-Martin victory. The Racers won the last two games against UTM. But Martin won 11 of the 12 previous games.

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Photos: Murray State - Morehead

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Photos: Calloway - Paducah Tilghman