Despite lengthy struggles, Austin Peay confident for rematch with Murray State
(STATS) - Winless for almost a year and mired in college football's longest road losing streak, it's understandable if Austin Peay struggles with its collective self confidence at times.
However, the Governors have reason to believe things could be different Saturday at Murray State.
Since the start of the 2013 season, Austin Peay (0-5, 0-2 Ohio Valley Conference) is 1-28. That lone victory came last Oct. 18, 20-13 at home over Murray.
"It's a rivalry game," said Austin Peay coach Kirby Cannon, whose team snapped a six-game series slide in 2014. "If you're only going to have one (win), it's the one the program wants you to get."
Despite entering the week tied for third-to-last in the FCS with 9.8 points per game and ranked 115th out of 125 with 43.6 allowed, the Governors are keeping the faith.
"It makes a difference (having beaten Murray last season)," said junior Justin Roberson, who rushed for 67 yards on 16 attempts against the Racers last season. "I think it does for any team that beats another team the year before. We're coming in with an edge over them, mindset-wise.
"But that said, any team that gets beat the year before is going to come harder than ever the next season."
It's homecoming at Murray, and a game the Racers (1-4, 0-2) can't afford to lose after dropping four straight since opening with a 52-12 victory over Division II Kentucky Wesleyan.
"It's a very good rivalry, we're looking forward to it," coach Mitch Stewart said.
There's also Austin Peay's 34-game road skid - the longest in all of Division I. The Governors' last road victory came against Tennessee State on Sept. 18, 2010, but the thought of extending that slide isn't where their minds are at.
"I'm very confident, because we beat them last year and feel like we can do it again," said receiver Jared Beard, who caught seven passes for 88 yards and three touchdowns in last year's meeting. "I think a lot of guys feel confident because this is our first time this season facing an opponent that we beat last year."
If Austin Peay is to prevail again it likely needs to be close at halftime. In the last three games, the Governors have been outscored 35-0 in the final 3 minutes of the first half.
"We've shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times this year but I don't see any reason (why) we can't beat them again," Beard said.
One week after Eastern Kentucky took the field following the death of defensive lineman Joey Kraemer, a campus security threat has forced Thursday night's scheduled home matchup against Tennessee Tech (2-3, 1-1) to be moved to nearby Georgetown College.
On Wednesday, university president Michael Benson announced the closing of all Eastern Kentucky campuses for Thursday and Friday so law enforcement can conduct a thorough investigation after it was reported that some graffiti with the threatening words "kill all" was discovered on campus earlier this week.
The 17th-ranked Colonels (2-2, 1-0) lost 34-27 in overtime at Kentucky last Saturday.
"It's good to have an open week," coach John Grass said. "Any time you have an open week in October is a positive. The bye week is hitting us at a great time. This will let us get healed up for the stretch run."
When the Gamecocks return to action, they visit Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay before a home showdown with Eastern Kentucky on Halloween.
SOMETHING TO BUILD ON=
Eastern Illinois (1-3, 1-0) amassed a season-high 527 yards during last Saturday's 40-16 win over Austin Peay and has a chance to build on that victory against a Southeast Missouri State squad it's dominated through the years. However, EIU coach Kim Dameron doesn't want any heads to swell.
"Let's just be a much better us this week than we were last week," Dameron said.
That's possible considering the Panthers have won 15 of the last 19 meetings with SEMO (2-3, 1-0) and scored at least 50 points in each of the last two.
The Redhawks have not scored more than 28 points in any game this season and lost 26-21 to Division II Shorter University on Sept 26. However, they rebounded from that setback with last Saturday's 27-10 win over Murray State.