College Football Betting Preview: Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky

The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders will try to keep their Conference USA title hopes alive as they host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in a rivalry game. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST on Friday, November 2, at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Fans can find all the action on CBS Sports Network.

According to the Week 10 college football betting odds, the Blue Raiders are 13.5-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 52 points. 

Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky Betting Preview & Vegas Odds

Rather quietly, MTSU has been one of the better teams in Conference USA this year. They are 4-1 in conference play and 5-3 overall. Their non-conference losses this season have come against SEC foes Vanderbilt and Georgia, so the Blue Raiders haven’t been afraid to challenge themselves. 

Unfortunately for Middle Tennessee, their only league loss came against Florida International, the team they’re chasing at the top of the C-USA East division. The Blue Raiders will have to win out and hope FIU losses two games in order to reach the C-USA title game. On the bright side, MTSU is just one win away from becoming bowl eligible, something they can take care of on Friday.

On the other hand, Western Kentucky can only play for pride at this point in the season. The Hilltoppers have endured a rough season, sitting at 1-7 with their only win coming against Ball State. They are also 0-4 in conference play just two years removed from winning back-to-back C-USA titles in 2015 and 2016. Without a win on Friday, losing 10 games and going winless in conference play will start to become distinct possibilities for the Hilltoppers in 2018.

Of course, Western Kentucky will have some extra motivation this week in a rivalry game that’s unofficially known as 100 Miles of Hate. These two schools are located roughly 100 miles apart despite being located in different states. In 2007, they started meeting on a yearly basis, with each team winning five of the 10 games played since then. However, the Hilltoppers are currently on a three-game winning streak against MTSU.

Free NCAAF Betting Prediction: Middle Tennessee -13.5

I always hate swallowing this many points in a rivalry game. But these two teams are not at the same level. Also, Middle Tennessee has a lot to play for, so I’m less worried about them coming out flat against a lesser opponent, especially at home. In the end, I don’t see the Hilltoppers keeping this game competitive over four quarters, so I’ll lean toward the Blue Raiders to win by two touchdowns and cover.

The only thing that made me a little wary to lean toward MTSU is the fact that the Blue Raiders have rarely won by substantial margins this year. However, they’re at the top of the league standings while Western Kentucky is near the bottom of C-USA.

In fact, the Hilltoppers are sitting next to the Old Dominion team that Middle Tennessee beat 51-17 last time out. That game showed me that Middle Tennessee is capable of dismantling a weaker team and winning by a comfortable margin, giving me confidence they can do it again this week.

Overall, the MTSU offense is far from a juggernaut. However, they do have a quarterback in Brent Stockstill who has the talent to at least get a look from the NFL when his college career is over. Outside of a couple games against the likes of Georgia and Florida International, he’s been consistent most of the year. I have little doubt that he’s talented enough to slice through a Western Kentucky defense that’s allowed at least 37 points in each of the last three weeks to Conference-USA opponents.

On the other side of the ball, the Hilltoppers are one of the worst offensive teams in college football this season. Through eight games, they are averaging less than 20 points per game. The running game has been non-existent at times. Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers have tried three different quarterbacks and still haven’t found the right one. Freshman Davis Shanley took most of the snaps last week but managed just 105 yards on 14 of 25 passing against Florida International.

The Middle Tennessee defense will have no problem selling out to stop a WKU rushing attack. That will force the Hilltoppers to beat the Blue Raiders through the air with Shanley or one of their other quarterbacks. Such a scenario will put the MTSU defense in a good position to force turnovers, something they did five times last week against Old Dominion. If Middle Tennessee can force a few turnovers, their chances of winning by two touchdowns increase significantly.

All things considered, I had a hard time finding reasons to believe that Western Kentucky can stay competitive in this game. It’s hard to get past that these two teams are on opposite sides of the Conference-USA spectrum right now. The rivalry aspect of this game may keep the 1st half close. But the Blue Raiders should eventually pull away and cover the spread.

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