Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Blue Raiders and Hilltoppers on Saturday in Murfreesboro, TN.
Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 15 – 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN
TV Broadcast: ESPN3
The Blue Raiders (4-1, 2-0 Conference USA) had a bye last week, but they scored a 30-13 road win over North Texas the last time they took the field. Brent Stockstill passed for 295 yards with a pair of touchdowns, and the defense played very strong after giving up a 17-play drive and an early touchdown. The Mean Green went scoreless on their next nine possessions, as they were forced to punt eight times and had six three-and-outs.
Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers (3-3, 1-1) lost a 55-52 heartbreaker last Thursday night on the road to Louisiana Tech, as Ryan Higgins passed for 454 yards and five touchdowns. The Bulldogs led 49-24 in the middle of the third quarter but withstood a furious rally, as a blocked punt and Mike White scoring passes of 31, 8 and 11 yards pulled WKU within three before it fell short.
In last year’s meeting in Bowling Green, the Hilltoppers scored on eight of their first 10 possessions, putting up 52 points in the first half en route to a 58-28 victory. Behind quarterback Brandon Doughty, the ‘Toppers put up 402 passing yards in the first half and 593 yards of total offense for the game.
What To Know About Middle Tennessee
The Blue Raiders have a prolific passer in Stockstill and a multi-dimensional running back in Ole Miss transfer I’Tavius Mathers, who is productive on the ground and a very good pass-catching option out of the backfield. The senior has 10 total touchdowns on the season. Defensively, this is a team that sits at No. 31 in third-down conversion defense, allowing opponents to get a first down just 32.9 percent of the time. It’s a well-balanced team that has a chance to advance to the C-USA title game.
What to Know About Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers should have a win over Vanderbilt to their credit, as they recorded 501 yards of total offense against a solid SEC defense earlier in the year. But penalties and turnovers doomed head coach Jeff Brohm’s squad in the loss to the Commodores. However, this is a team that has a chance to repeat as C-USA champs because it is as talented as any in the league. This game is crucial to that cause, though, because WKU already has one loss and this is an East division matchup.
Offense: Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders are averaging 528.4 yards per game and have a stronger rushing attack.
Defense: Middle Tennessee. Head coach Rick Stockstill’s squad has a much better pass defense than the Hilltoppers.
Special Teams: Even. Western Kentucky kickers Skyler Simcox and Ryan Nuss have combined to miss four field goals already this year, including two kicks under 40 yards. However, Middle Tennessee’s Canon Rooker has missed two on the year, including an attempt of less than 30 yards.
Coaching: Middle Tennessee. Stockstill has taken Middle Tennessee to five bowl games and also has a bowl-less eight-win season to his credit.
Intangibles: Middle Tennessee. It’s the Blue Raiders’ Homecoming game, so it’ll be a party in Murfreesboro.
Matchup To Watch
Stockstill vs. White
Stockstill, who is completing 61.7 percent of his throws, can win a shootout with most any quarterback. But his percentage has dropped in each of the last three games. His accuracy isn’t quite where it needs to be, but it hasn’t really hurt the Blue Raiders in the W/L column. In what will certainly become a shootout, he needs to take advantage of a pass defense that is relinquishing 291.2 yards per game. Meanwhile, White did not play well in losses to Alabama and Vanderbilt. But in his last two contests, he has thrown for a combined 565 yards and eight touchdowns against no interceptions. He’ll face a defense that stymied North Texas its last time out.
Spread: Middle Tennessee -2.5
Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky Prediction
This should be another C-USA matchup filled with offensive fireworks, but I like the home team with the more potent offensive attack and a better defense. White makes his share of plays and running back Anthony Wales will find some room on the ground, but the Blue Raiders are the more balanced squad.
Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky Score Prediction: Middle Tennessee 41, Western Kentucky 30