Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
Middle Tennessee St. Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 07/29/2008
No. 110 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
2007 Record ~ 5-7 SU ~ 6-5 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (5) Defense (5)
This low ranking may be a surprise to some considering that the Blue Raiders are coming off a SBC Championship in 2006 and early contention last season. However, it is rebuilding time in Murfreesboro. Middle Tennessee fell apart last season mostly due to getting killed by injuries and this season, it will be more of the same as lack of depth will be the issue. This is the youngest team in the conference and it is going to show right from the start. An early losing skid could send this team to its worst season since 2003.
The offense wasnâ€™t horrible last year but it wasnâ€™t very efficient either. The Blue Raiders used a two-quarterback system and will likely do the same again this year. While both are not bad, there are a lot of holes around them. The biggest weakness is on the offensive line where four starters need to be replaced following three graduations and the spring loss of Mark Fisher. Eight of the 10 players in the two-deep are either sophomores or freshen. Running back and receiver is ok with starters but there are huge holes after that.
Defensively, there are even bigger holes to fill. The two best ends in the conference need to be replaced which will make things tough to try to improve upon its ranking of 102nd against the run. The Blue Raiders allowed 12 rushing touchdowns in the last four games and an average of 333 ypg on the ground over the last three games. The passing defense finished 40th in the nation and despite losing two All-SBC players, the unit is still experienced. It wonâ€™t matter if the front seven doesnâ€™t do its job though.
The schedule is usually tough and this season is no exception. The Blue Raiders start the season with a home game against conference favorite Troy followed by another home game against Maryland. It is then off to Kentucky before SBC play resumes. A visit from Florida Atlantic is a break but back-to-back games at Louisville and Mississippi St. at the end of October could cause the throw in the towel. Stay away from this team unless it finds a way to stop the run early. If it can, we can find some great value in some spots.