NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Saturday, The Tennessee State football team will wrap-up its season and try to beat Murray State on the road for the first time since 2003.
The Tigers are coming off of a much needed bye week, as a handful of players had been nursing injuries all season. TSU defeated Austin Peay, 31-27, two weeks ago, ending a five-game skid and allowing Big Blue to finish 6-6 with a win over the Racers this Saturday.
The Racers enter Saturday’s contest sporting an overall record of 3-8, and a 1-6 mark in conference games. In its last contest, Murray State led nationally-ranked Eastern Kentucky, 27-7, at halftime, but lost by seven in a shoot-out.
Three Keys to the Game
Execute on Offense
The Racers are currently the worst defensive team in the OVC, and have surrendered an average of 505.3 yards per game. The unit has also given up 462 points on the year – by comparison, TSU has allowed just 241. Those two stats should bode well for the Tigers who seem to have found offensive stability last time out at Austin Peay. While TSU just had three points at halftime, Mike German threw four touchdowns in the final two quarters and set a new career-high with 395 yards. MSU has a notoriously strong offense, so the Tigers must take advantage when they have the ball.
Murray State return man Pokey Harris has taken a kickoff back 100 yards for a score in two-straight weeks, earning him OVC Special Teams Player of the Week. TSU ranks fourth in the conference in kickoff return defense, allowing just 19.8 yards per run back. Coincidentally, Tennessee State’s Darion Hall had a 100-yard touchdown against EKU, making Saturday’s kickoffs a must-watch.
MSU’ KD Humphries leads the OVC in total offense and is the sole quarterback in the league to have already reached the 3,000 yard plateau. TSU should represent a matchup problem for the Racer gunslinger, as the Tigers are tops in the conference in pass defense (124.8 y/g). The unit also boasts Nick Thrasher whose 121 tackles are second in the OVC. TSU’s front-four have also caused opposing offenses fits this year and Gabe Terry (8.0), Samquan Evans (7.0) and Anthony Bass (6.0) all rank inside the top-four in sacks.
Tennessee State is 12-13 all-time against Murray State, but broke the Racers’ five-game win streak in the series with a 17-10 win in Nashville last season.
This group of seniors have been some of the best in recent history and can make it three-straight non-losing seasons for the first time since 1984-86.
TSU will close the season at MSU on Nov. 22 with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.