Murray State’s football games are punctuated by a thoroughbred.
The Racers’ football stadium is nicknamed “The Track.”
When the Racers score, a thoroughbred horse circles the track as part of the celebration.
“I hope that thoroughbred doesn’t get very tired Saturday,” said University of Central Arkansas coach Clint Conque, whose Bears take on the Racers on Saturday night in Murray, Ky.
Conque and his staff are more concerned with the production of another thoroughbred. Murray State quarterback Casey Brockman was the leading passer in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision last year passing for 3276 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was 316 for 477 to set an Ohio Valley Conference record. He threw for 422 yards in the first half on the way to a 600-yard effort against Tennessee State. He passed for 421 yards and two TD’s against Jacksonville State.
“This was the most prolific passing offenses in the country last year in FCS,” Conque said. “It’s a good, short-passing game with capable receivers.”
Brockman and the receivers were pretty much bottled up last weekend as the Racers went way up in class and took a 69-3 thumping before 70,047 at No. 7 Florida State, the highest-ranked opponent the Racers have ever faced.
“That game was decided early and they (the Racers) played their 3’s and 4’s pretty much the second half,” Conque said.
The Bears also stepped up in class and lost 49-27 to Ole Miss after leading 20-14 at the half.
“The key part of that game was we played a Southeastern Conference team in their venue and didn’t flinch,” Conque said. “They just found another gear the second half.”
The Racers are 0-2-1 against the Bears, losing 21-20 in Conway in 2010 as UCA blocked a field goal in the final seconds.
Murray State is coached by Chris Hatcher, a longtime rival of Conque’s when Hatcher coached Valdosta State and both teams were in the Gulf South Conference. Hatcher’s Valdosta State teams were 6-0 vs. the Bears, most of them highly competitive games.
“We’ll have to adjust to a different setting,” Conque said, “ESPN won’t be there. There won’t be 50,000-plus folks in the stands and we’ll have to drive through three hours of cornfields to get to Murray.”