Middle Tennessee vs. FIU prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Blue Raiders and Golden Panthers on Saturday in Miami, FL.
Middle Tennessee vs. FIU Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 29 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: FIU Stadium, Miami, FL
TV Broadcast: ESPN3
The Blue Raiders (5-2, 2-1 Conference USA) went on the road and claimed a 51-45 upset of SEC foe Missouri last week to ruin the Tigers’ 105th homecoming and atone for a 41-40 overtime loss to Mizzou back in 2003. Quarterback Brent Stockstill was 23-of-41 passing for 280 yards and four touchdowns, and he added 70 yards on seven carries as the Blue Raiders amassed 584 yards of offense, including 300 rushing yards.
Meanwhile, the Golden Panthers (3-5, 3-1) dropped a 44-24 home game to Louisiana Tech last Saturday night. FIU quarterback Alex McGough finished 25-of-44 passing for 281 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
In the meeting between the two teams in Murfreesboro last season, Desmond Anderson scored three touchdowns and ran for 144 yards as Middle Tennessee held on for a 42-34 win. Richie James caught six passes for 104 yards and Rod Ducksworth hauled in three for 76 yards for the Blue Raiders. Meanwhile, McGough threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
What To Know About Middle Tennessee
While Missouri was able to run 104 plays and rack up 629 total yards, Middle Tennessee does not win games because of its defense. The Blue Raiders allow 429.0 yards per game, but they put up an average of 548.9 yards per contest, and it isn’t just with Stockstill’s arm. Former Ole Miss running back I’Tavius Mathers rushed 28 times for 215 yards and a touchdown, and he also caught eight passes for 48 yards and a score. It was the highest individual rushing total Missouri has allowed since Auburn’s Tre Mason rushed for 180 yards in the 2013 SEC title game.
What to Know About FIU
Last week’s loss was the Golden Panthers’ first under interim head coach Ron Cooper after three straight victories. Cooper took over for Ron Turner, who was fired after opening the season with four straight losses. McGough has proven that he can effectively move the ball through the air, but the dual-threat signal-caller has tossed 10 interceptions and is completing less than 57 percent of his throws. So his accuracy and consistency create some issues for the offense. However, he has been more productive since that 0-4 start, giving this unit at least a modest passing attack. Meanwhile, Alex Gardner has had some nice rushing efforts this season, but he too has been plagued by inconsistency. This is an offense that is still looking for a complete-game effort against a top opponent.
Offense: Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders’ offense can win a game both through the air and on the ground.
Defense: Even. Neither team is adept at stopping opposing offenses.
Special Teams: Even. Each team’s kicker has missed a few field goals on the season, but both have strong legs and are capable of giving their team three points when the offense stalls in the red zone.
Coaching: Middle Tennessee. Rick Stockstill has not had a losing season with the Red Raiders since they moved to C-USA.
Intangibles: Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders have to be feeling sky-high following their upset at Mizzou.
Matchup To Watch
FIU rushing attack vs. Middle Tennessee passing game
The Blue Raiders are going to be able to move the football effectively both through the air and on the ground. But the bread and butter is still the passing game. FIU will want to shorten the game and keep that prolific offense off of the field, which means its rushing attack has to be effective. FIU’s ground game was solid against FAU and UTEP, but Charlotte and Louisiana Tech limited the Golden Panthers to a total of 106 rushing yards the last two weeks (39 against Charlotte and 67 versus Louisiana Tech) by stacking the box and daring FIU to beat them through the air. McGough can make plays, but he’s not skilled enough to pick apart a defense without a semblance of a run game. The Golden Panthers are going to need to be balanced on offense, and that starts with effectively moving the football on the ground.
Spread: Middle Tennessee -16.5
Middle Tennessee vs. FIU Prediction
This Middle Tennessee offense is prolific and fun to watch. FIU just doesn’t have the offensive material to hang with this high-powered offense.
Middle Tennessee vs. FIU Score Prediction: Middle Tennessee 42, FIU 24