NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. UTSA Roadrunners Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 18, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: 6 p.m. ET, September 18, 2021
Venue: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Where to watch: ESPN+

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: UTSA -12.5; O/U 59.5; UTSA -525, Middle Tennessee +385
BetMGM: UTSA -12.5; O/U 59.5; UTSA -500, Middle Tennessee +380
Caesars: UTSA -12.5; O/U 59.5; UTSA -550, Middle Tennessee +400

Season record
Middle Tennessee: 1-0
UTSA: 2-0

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Middle Tennessee - UTSA preview and analysis


Recent form
MTSU: lost 35-14 at No. 15 Virginia Tech on Sept. 11
UTSA: won 54-0 vs. Lamar on Sept. 11

It’s hard to look at the UTSA Roadrunners and believe they’re losing any time soon.

It might not be happening this week, but it may be close enough to make things interesting against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in a C-USA opener for both teams in the Alamodome on Saturday.

The Roadrunners are coming off a dominant 54-0 win over the Lamar Cardinals in their home opener. It was a game that featured three quarterbacks -- Frank Harris didn’t need to last long against the FCS squad -- and a UTSA defense that held Lamar to 122 total yards for the entire game and held Lamar quarterback Jalen Dummett to a grand total of 33 yards on six completions.

It was an easy day for the UTSA offense that benefitted from three rushing touchdowns in the second quarter. The Roadrunners outgained Lamar 427-122 and doubled the Cardinals in first downs (20-10). Harris, the UTSA starter, went 13-of-15 for 118 yards and zero interceptions. Josh Adkins, in relief after the starters were pulled, threw two touchdowns on an 11-for-13 afternoon.

Middle Tennessee is coming off a hard-fought effort against the 15th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, albeit losing 35-14. Bailey Hockman outplayed Braxton Burmeister through the air, but the MTSU quarterback didn’t get much help from the running game. MTSU had 36 carries for 66 yards. But more importantly, MTSU only trailed 14-7 at the half.

Last season, the meeting between these two Conference USA clubs went to the wire. UTSA took a 14-3 lead, but the Blue Raiders rallied and cut it to two, but couldn’t convert a late two-point conversion to lose 37-35. Middle Tennesse rallied for the backdoor cover (+6).

Prediction


This is the first time under Jeff Traylor that UTSA is laying double digits, which shows how much confidence the books have with this Roadrunners team. While MTSU played UTSA tough last year, there’s something exciting brewing with this college football team based in San Antonio. It’s going to be an exciting atmosphere in the Alamodome, and I think UTSA barely covers with a thrilling win. UTSA wins by 14

Betting trends


Middle Tennessee is 6-3 against the spread as a road dog in the CUSA and has recorded three straight up upsets the past three years.

UTSA is 6-0 straight up in its last six as a home favorite, and 4-2 against the spread.

Players to watch


Middle Tennessee: Jimmy Marshall was busy against Virginia Tech. The wide receiver caught eight passes for 111 yards, bouncing back after only 15 in the season opener.

UTSA: Sincere McCormick is no stranger to the end zone after scoring twice on seven carries against Lamar. His yards per carry are down from last year, but expect things to ramp up for the UTSA running back in conference play starting Saturday.

Statistical leaders


Middle Tennessee:
Passing: Bailey Hockman -- 422 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Amir Rasul -- 57 yards
Receiving: Jimmy Marshall -- 126 yards
Defense: DQ Thomas -- 20 tackles, 1 sack

UTSA:
Passing: Frank Harris -- 398 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Sincere McCormick -- 163 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Zakhari Franklin -- 232 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Trevor Harmanson -- 12 tackles

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All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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