Friday night college football action and we will see a pair of teams from conference USA square off as the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders grapple with the UTSA Roadrunners at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The Blue Raiders enter this game at 0-2 on the year while the Roadrunners have gone 2-0 in the early part of the season so far. These teams last met back in 2016 and the Roadrunners won that game on the road by a score of 45-25.
The Blue Raiders Are Off To A Very Slow StartThe Middle Tennesse Blue Raider went just 4-8 last year but they had high -hopes coming into this season as MTSU was expected to challenge for the Conference USA East title. Well, things do not always go as planned as the Blue Raiders are off to an 0-2 start and they have been outscored 89-14 in the two games. Ouch. That is not good at all. MTSU was 114th in experience last year and they came into this year at 73rd. The offense was expected to be vastly improved as they have nine starters back from a unit that averaged just 26.3 ppg. Still, MTSU has put up just 14 points through their first two games. The offense comes in ranked 51st in the nation in yards per game at 212.5. QB Asher Ohara is the leader of the offense but he has thrown for just 155 yards in two games, with 114 of those yards going to Jarrin Pierce. They could finally get their passing game going against a UTSA team that has allowed 317.0 ypg through the air so far.
Ohara led the team in rushing last year with 1058 yards, along with nine TDs and he leads them again but with just 63 yards through two games. He is a true dual-threat QB and will be looking to get his running game going in this one as it can only help him in the passing game. The Blue Raiders allowed 29.9 ppg last year and with just five starters back on that side of the ball, the defense has not improved at all. The run defense was an issue for them a year ago as they allowed 194 ypg on the ground and it has not improved at all as MTSU has allowed 290 ypg on the ground so far. They game up 240 yards to Troy last week and 340 yards to Army in their first game of the season. The run defense could struggle here as the Roadrunners have averaged 282.5 ypg on the ground so far.
UTSA Uses Defense To Top Stephen F. AustinThe Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners were also 4-8 last year and they were expected to finish in 6th place in Conference USA West. Well, they started out the opposite of MTSU, going 2-0 through their first two games. There are still plenty of games for this team to fall apart but right now, that has not been the case. in their opener, they took down Texas State in a thrilling two OT game by a score of 51-48. The defense did not play well in that game as they allowed the Bobcats to pile up 480 yards of total offense, including 349 yards through the air, but the defense did bounce back in their next game, allowing Stephen F. Austin to put up just 344 yards of total offense, in a 24-10 win. The run defense played well in that game but the Roadrunners allowed the Lumberjacks to put up 285 yards through the air. They have now allowed 317 ypg passing so far and will look to improve on that against an MTSU offense that has struggled to throw the ball this year.
The offense has been one of the worst in the nation the last two years and they averaged just 20.3 ppg a year ago. That offense has looked a bit better this year and it should as they have eight starters back from a season ago. The ground game has been their bread-and-butter so far as they had 331 yards against the Bobcats and followed that up with 229 yards last week. Harris led them with 104 yards and two TDs last week and this running game will now take aim at a defense that has allowed 290 ypg through their first two games. He now has 161 yards rushing and five TDs so far. Harris has thrown for 438 yards with two TDs and an INT so far but he will be looking to beat the Blue Raiders with his legs and that solid running game.
Trends Texas-San Antonio is:
- 0-5 ATS off a non-conference game vs an opponent off of a DD SU loss
- 0-7 ATS as favorites of less than 15.
Middle Tennessee is:
- 8-1 ATS as dogs of less than 21 off of a DD SU loss
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Blue Raiders could not have looked worse than they have in their first two games this year but I will expect them to correct some things and at least keep this one close. The Blue Raiders are much more experienced than they were a year ago and now it's time for this offense to strut its stuff after a couple of bad games. The Roadrunners are off to a 2-0 start but they needed two OTs to beat a Sun Belt team and last week they had a lackluster performance in a 24-10 home win over Stephen F. Austin, which is a Division II team. Frank Harris had a big season last year and he should finally breakthrough against a defense that has struggled to stop the pass so far. That will then allow Harris to beat them with his legs. These teams have headed in the opposite direction of where they were supposed to be this year. Tonight, I see a bit of a reversal as the Blue Raiders come up with the outright win here. I would sprinkle some on the ML in this one, Especially since UTSA is 1-6 SU in their last seven-game threes.
Prediction: Middle Tennessee +6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The Blue Raiders have struggled this year on offense as they have averaged just 7.0 ppg over their first two games and will be facing a defense that played very well last week. the Blue Raiders hope to get their passing game going but they will also run a lot and that will eat up plenty of the clock. The Roadrunners averaged just 20.3 ppg last year and 14.2 ppg the year before. They did put up 41 points in their opening win over Texas State in regulation but them the offenses showed it's true colors last week as they scored just 24 against a Division II team. UTSA will look to run the ball a lot and that will also shorten the game. I will look for this game to put up closer to 50 points than 60.
Prediction: Under 58