The North Texas Mean Green (1-9, 1-5) will travel to face the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (5-5, 4-2) in a Conference USA matchup Saturday afternoon. The teams have split the last ten meetings; North Texas picked up a 34-7 win at home as a 6.5 point favorite on October 12, 2013 in the most recent matchup between the teams.
North Texas lost their second straight as they were blanked 24-0 on the road by Tennessee last Saturday. Middle Tennessee has won two straight and three of their last four after knocking off Florida Atlantic 24-17 on the road last Saturday. The contest kicks off at 12:00 pm ET from Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and will be not be nationally televised. Middle Tennessee is currently a 24 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 62 points.
North Texas failed to put any points on the scoreboard, which doomed them to a defeat. It marked the seventh time that the Mean Green was held to 16 points or less on the season. North Texas was outgained 409-199 in the game and gave up 24 first downs while picking up 14 in the game. The Mean Green held the ball for 30:59 while holding Tennessee to 29:01 in the contest and forced the game’s only turnover but penetrated no further than the Tennessee 45 yard line in the loss.
The Mean Green is dismal offensively as they are 113th in passing offense with an average of 172.8 yards per game and 86th in rushing by putting up 158.4 yards per contest. North Texas is getting outscored on average by four touchdowns a game as they are scoring 15.8 points per game, putting them 124th in scoring offense while ranking as the fourth worst scoring defense in the FBS by allowing 43.4 points per game. Three quarterbacks have seen action this season and they’ve struggled: they have combined to complete 46.6 percent of their throws for 1,728 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions while averaging just 4.94 yards per pass attempt. They may have found something with DaMarcus Smith, who, while he’s 86 of 182 on the season for 902 yards with eight touchdowns and four picks plus 349 rushing yards and a score, put up four scoring passes against Western Kentucky. Jeffery Wilson leads the Mean Green with 128 carries for 735 yards and a touchdown while Antoinne Jimerson has 60 carries for 223 yards and a touchdown; Willy Ivery has 36 carries for 231 yards and a pair of scores. Carlos Harris leads the Mean Green with 55 receptions for 688 yards and seven scores; Marcus Smith is next in line with his 27 grabs for 250 yards while Turner Smiley contributes 23 catches for 245 yards and a score. Trevor Moore has hit all 18 extra points and is 8 of 12 on field goals though he doesn’t have a kick longer than 38 yards.
Middle Tennessee managed to pick up a road win by upending Florida Atlantic. The game was tied late in the game when Richie James had a 62 yard scoring reception from Brent Stockstill with 5:59 to play. Middle Tennessee outgained Florida Atlantic 479-297, finished with 22 first downs while allowing 14 and held the ball for 33 minutes to the 27 minutes of the Owls. Those advantages helped overcome the fact the Blue Raiders turned the ball over twice while forcing just one takeaway in the contest.
The Blue Raiders are 18th in the nation in passing with an average of 313.9 yards per game while they average 141.5 yards (99th in the nation) per game on the ground. Middle Tennessee is averaging 32.8 points a game, which is tied for 47th in the nation in scoring offense. The Blue Raiders are 82nd in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 28.7 points per game. The Blue Raiders are pretty balanced as far as plays go: they have had 359 pass plays and 350 rushing attempts this season. Brent Stockstill is 250 of 383 for 3,099 yards with 23 touchdowns against seven interceptions. Jordan Parker is second on the team with 80 carries for 362 yards and four scores; Shane Tucker (91 carries, 283 yards), Desmond Anderson (82 carries, team high 373 yards, 4 TD) and Jeremiah Bryson (46 carries, 198 yards, 3 TD) are also in the mix on the ground. As a team, the Blue Raiders average just 3.6 yards per rushing attempt on the year. When Stockstill goes back to pass, it’s a safe bet to think that Richie James (82 receptions, 1,037 yards, 6 TD) or Ed’Marques Battles (67 receptions, 814 yards, 12 TD) are going to be involved in the play. That duo has combined for 149 of the 254 receptions Middle Tennessee players have made this year; Terry Pettis is next in line with 24 receptions for 513 yards and three scores. Cody Clark has hit all 41 extra points and nine of 12 field goals this season.
Middle Tennessee is 4-1 ATS in their last five after an ATS win and 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 after running for less than 100 yards in their last game. North Texas is 8-21 ATS in their last 29 on turf and 2-10 ATS in their last 12 on the road.
The Blue Raiders are playing solid football right now and could punch their ticket to bowl eligibility with a win here. North Texas is no real threat as they’ve been dismal this season and they haven’t done much on the road either. Middle Tennessee is the better team and they should dispatch the Mean Green with relative ease in this contest.