Preview: Murray State at Eastern Kentucky

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Murray State Racers (3-3, 3-0 OVC)
at Eastern Kentucky Colonels (3-3, 2-1 OVC)
Saturday, October 20 2:00 p.m. CT
Roy Kidd Stadium (20,000) Richmond, Ky.
TV:...................................................................... ESPN+
Live Stats: https://ekusports.com/sidearmstats/football/summary
Series Record:................. Eastern Kentucky leads 46-27-4
Last Meeting:........ Eastern Kentucky won 26-13 (10/28/17)
Mitch Stewart at Murray State:..................... 13-26 (4 yrs.)
Mitch Stewart Overall:.............................................. same
Mark Elder at Eastern Kentucky:................... 10-18 (3 yrs.)
Mark Elder Overall:.................................................. same
Murray State Last Week:..... W, 45-21 vs. Tennessee State
Eastern Kentucky Last Week:.......... W, 35-34 at UT Martin

GAME NOTES: A pair of in-state rivals will meet in Richmond on Saturday in Eastern Kentucky's annual Homecoming game (after paying in MSU's Homecoming game a season ago). The matchup will be key in the OVC race, with Murray State currently tied for first place at 3-0, and EKU just one loss back at 2-1. The meeting is the 78th all-time between the teams with the Colonels holding a 46-27-4 all-time advantage. Murray State has won two of the last five meetings, including the last meeting in Richmond in 2016 (41-28). A season ago, EKU scored 19 second quarter points in grabbing a 26-6 halftime advantage on its way to the 26-13 win. Tim Boyle passed for a pair of touchdowns for Eastern while LJ Scott rushed for two scores in the victory. Shuler Bentley passed for 210 yards and a score for the Racers.

SCOUTING MURRAY STATE: For the first time since the 1997 season, Murray State is 3-0 in OVC play. The Racers topped Tennessee State 45-21 on Saturday thanks to six touchdowns (5 passing, 1 rushing) from senior quarterback Drew Anderson. Anderson, who took home OVC Offensive Player of the Week honors, completed 33-of-51 passes for 348 yards and ran 10 times for 63 yards in the win. He completed passes to 11 different receivers and engineered four touchdown drives of 70 yards or longer. The Racers rushing attack tallied 152 yards with Rodney Castille added 55 yards on five carries. During its three-game winning streak, MSU has averaged 46 points and 577.7 yards of total offense/game. In the first three games of the season (against tough competition), the team scored a combined 36 points.  A year ago MSU only scored more  than 31 points once (against a non-Division I opponent) and the three-straight games with 40 or more points is a first for the team since the 2012 campaign. On the flip side, the Racers defense held TSU to an opponent season-low of 21 points, including 6-of-12 on third down. Quincy Williams had seven tackles and now leads the team with 55 stops on the season. Kicker Gabriel Vicente hit a 47-yard field goal and was 6-of-6 on PATs in the win; Vicente is 29-of-29 on kicks in 2018.

SCOUTING EASTERN KENTUCKY: Eastern Kentucky rebounded from its loss to nationally-ranked Jacksonville State by scoring 14 points off turnovers in coming-from-behind to best UT Martin 35-34. The Colonels trailed 34-21 late in the third quarter before Daryl McCleskey, Jr. scored the first of his two touchdowns on the game with 11 seconds left in the period. On the ensuing kickoff, freshman Matthew Jackson made a great special teams playing in running down on a kickoff and grabbing the ball before the Skyhawks could field it. Six plays later McCleskey scored again to give the Colonels the one-point victory. McCleskey had 74 rushing yards while LJ Scott had his first 100-yard rushing game in a Colonel uniform, netting 106 yards on 25 carries. Linebacker Gavin Bryant was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week (the third different EKU linebacker to earn the award this season) after tallying 11 tackles, a sack and scooping up a fumble in the first quarter and returning it 43 yards for a touchdown. The Colonels rank fifth nationally in passes intercepted (11) and turnovers gained (18) and 11th nationally in fumbles recovered (7) this season.

The Massey Ratings predict a 31-28 Eastern Kentucky victory.

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