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Tuesday Service Plays
Re: Tuesday Service Plays
Atlantic +3.0 vs Middle Tenn. St.
This is a very big game for both programs. For starters, it's a rare chance to play on National TV. Additionally, with identical 1-3 records, both teams desperately need a victory. One could argue that the Blue Raiders need the game more, as they are already 0-2 in conference play. However, I believe that the Owls need the game just as badly, as they are coming off back to back blowout losses and desperately need to right the ship. While the Blue Raiders have homefield advantage, I believe that the Owls are the stronger team. I also believe that the matchups on the field favor the Owls.
The Blue Raiders have had an effective passing attack through their first four games. However, their running attack has been non-existent. That should work in favor of the Owls as they've been poor against the run but decent against the pass. The Blue Raiders have proven to be vulnerable against the pass, getting torched by Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard in their last game. Leonard threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, running for 74 more, which was the best game of his career. The suspect secondary should be just the ticket for FAU QB QB Rusty Smith, the reigning Sun Belt Conference player of the year. The Owls have also gotten soldi production from running back Charles Pierre, who leads the team with 268 yards on 41 carries with two rushing touchdowns
While it's true that the Blue Raiders have been more competitive in their games, two of those were against conference opponents. The Owls, who were the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt after earning a share of the title and the league's automatic bid to the New Orleans Bowl last season, have played three road games against teams from the Big 10 and Big 12. That included the likes of Texas and Michigan State. Just because they weren't able to win road games against the 'big boys' doesn't mean that they won't be able to play well against the weaker teams from the Sun Belt. Keep in mind that the Owls won their lone game against a team from a non-BCS school by double-digits.
I expect the Owls to benefit from the tough non-conference road schedule. As coach Schnellenberger said earlier in the week: "We look forward to getting in conference play. We need to have a good week of practice to refocus and we need improvement from all three phases of the football team...I'm confident that's going to happen."
On the other hand, Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill admitted he would have preferred more non-conference games, saying: "I think with such a young team, you just wish you had more non-conference games early in the year. And I say that because you'd just like to have more of a chance to get their feet wet with such a young football team." The Owls won last year's meeting by a score of 27-14. The game wasn't even that close as the Owls led 24-0 in the fourth quarter and finished the game with a 411-217 edge in total yards, including a massive 216-18 edge on the ground. One of Middle Tennesee State's two scores was one on blocked punt for a touchdown. The Owls brought back a whopping 18 return starters from that team while the Blue Raiders only brought back 12, making them the youngest team in the Sun Belt. Lastly, in the event that this proves to be a close game, it should be noted that Middle Tennessee freshman kicker Alan Gendreau missed his only field-goal attempt against Arkansas State and that he's just 2-of-5 for the season. I'll gladly grab the points but am expecting an upset. *Main Event
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