(STATS) - Armed with one of the top quarterbacks in the FCS, Murray State will try to improve on coach Mitch Stewart's first season in its 11-game 2016 schedule which was announced Wednesday.
The Racers went 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the Ohio Valley Conference in Stewart's initial campaign. But their returnees include quarterback KD Humphries, who led the FCS in completions (330), pass attempts (532), passing yards (3,778) and passing yards per game (353.3), adding 22 touchdowns through the air.
Murray State will play five home games, starting with Missouri State (Sept. 10) from the Missouri Valley Football Conference and then OVC members Southeast Missouri (Sept. 24), UT Martin (Oct. 15), Tennessee State (Oct. 29, Homecoming) and Jacksonville State (Nov. 12), the two-time defending champion.
The season opens at Illinois on Sept. 3 and the Racers also have road games against Southern Illinois (Sept. 17) from the MVFC and OVC opponents Austin Peay (Oct. 1), Eastern Illinois (Oct. 22), Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 5) and Tennessee Tech (Nov. 19).
"This, in my opinion, is really a tremendous schedule," Stewart said. "We get to start off the year with a trip to an Illinois, which will be a nice opportunity for our kids to experience Big Ten football and all the trappings that come with it.
"From there, we have two nonconference games against a pair of schools from, what many to believe, the best FCS conference in the country. When you add to that the fact we can re-ignite a rivalry with a team (Southern Illinois) that is a little over 100 miles from our front door. Throw in five home games and while it will no doubt be challenging, this schedule should be a lot of fun for not only our guys, but for our fans as well."
2016 Murray State 2016 Schedule
Sept. 3, at Illinois
Sept. 10, Missouri State
Sept. 17, at Southern Illinois
Sept. 24, Southeast Missouri*
Oct. 1, at Austin Peay*
Oct. 15, UT Martin*
Oct. 22, at Eastern Illinois*
Oct. 29, Tennessee State* (Homecoming)
Nov. 5, at Eastern Kentucky*
Nov. 12, Jacksonville State*
Nov. 19, at Tennessee Tech*
* - OVC game