The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (6-5, 5-2) head to the Lone Star State as they take on the UTSA Roadrunners (3-8, 3-4) in a Conference USA matchup Saturday afternoon. This marks the first meeting in history between the two programs.
Middle Tennessee has won three straight after routing North Texas 41-7 at home last Saturday. UTSA has won two straight as they defeated Rice 34-24 at home last Saturday in what could be construed as a minor upset. Kickoff from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas is scheduled for 2:30 pm ET and the game will not be nationally televised. Middle Tennessee is currently favored by 12 points with the over/under set at 58.5 points in this contest.
Middle Tennessee had little trouble dispatching the Mean Green at home last week as they had a solid performance. The Blue Raiders led 14-0 after one quarter and 31-7 at the half before slowing things down in the second half. Middle Tennessee outgained North Texas 494-324, picked up 30 first downs while allowing 18 and won the time of possession battle by a 31:12 to 28:48 margin. The Blue Raiders turned the ball over twice but managed to force three turnovers by the Mean Green and cruised to the win.
The Blue Raiders are 17th in the nation in passing with an average of 315.3 yards per game while they average 143.6 yards (98th in the nation) per game on the ground. Middle Tennessee is averaging 33.6 points a game, which is tied for 41st in the nation in scoring offense. The Blue Raiders are 66th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 26.7 points per game. The Blue Raiders are pretty balanced as far as plays go: they have had 432 pass plays and 434 rushing attempts this season. Brent Stockstill is 277 of 421 for 3,421 yards with 26 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Jordan Parker is currently leading the team with 91 carries for 417 yards and five scores; Shane Tucker (105 carries, 326 yards), Desmond Anderson (83 carries, 378 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 (93 receptions, 1,135 yards, 6 TD) or Ed’Marques Battles (71 receptions, 878 yards, 13 TD) are going to be involved in the play. That duo has combined for 164 of the 284 receptions Middle Tennessee players have made this year; Terry Pettis is next in line with 26 receptions for 566 yards and three scores. Cody Clark has hit all 46 extra points and 11 of 15 field goals this season.
UTSA was down 10-7 after one quarter but outscored Rice 21-7 in the second quarter to take command in the game. The Roadrunners were outgained 520-431, gave up 28 first downs while picking up 18 and allowed the Owls to hold the ball for 34:41 to their 25:19 in the contest. UTSA did their damage in the turnover department as they forced three takeaways while not committing a turnover of their own in the victory. The Roadrunners held Rice at bay after taking the lead late in the first half.
The Roadrunners average 198.3 yards per game (currently 97th in the nation) through the air and 170.4 yards on the ground (67th in the nation) this season. UTSA puts up 23.3 points per game and they’ve struggled defensively as they are tied for 98th in scoring defense by allowing 33 points per game. Blake Bogenschutz is the starter at quarterback; he’s hit 59.1 percent of his passes for 897 yards with four touchdowns and four picks. Bogenschutz missed the last five games with a concussion and is questionable at best in this one. That means Dalton Sturm (111 of 189, 1214 yards, 12 TD, 5 INT, 347 rushing yards, TD) is a real possibility of making his sixth straight start. Jarveon Williams is the lead back in the run game as he has 173 carries for 1,042 yards and eight scores while Jalen Rhodes (54 carries, 236 yards, 2 TD) is the second back in the system. In the passing game, Bogenschutz and Sturm can look for David Morgan II (42 receptions, team high 532 yards, 5 TD), Aaron Grubb (40 grabs, 345 yards, 3 TD) and Kerry Thomas Jr. (team high 50 catches, 529 yards, 4 TD) to move the sticks. Daniel Portillo has struggled in the kicking game as he is 26 of 31 on extra points but just 10 of 17 on field goals this year; he’s 0 for 6 from 40 to 49 yards though he hit a 51 yard kick.
Middle Tennessee is 5-1 ATS in their last six after an ATS win, 4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up win, 4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up win of at least 20 points and 21-8 ATS in their last 29 after allowing less than 170 yards through the air. UTSA is 1-3-1 ATS in their last five conference games, 1-3-1 ATS in their last five overall and 1-4 ATS in their last five at home against teams with a winning road record.
The Roadrunners may have won two in a row but Middle Tennessee is a better team than Rice and Charlotte at this point in time. UTSA has issues offensively and their defense is middling at best. Middle Tennessee is extremely proficient throwing the ball with a devastating duo of receivers in Battles and Lewis. Look for the Blue Raiders to get the victory here.