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Middle Tennessee's strong 2nd half not enough at Minnesota

A huge second quarter from the Golden Gophers put this one out of reach early. The Raiders were much more impressive in the second half making it feel like they might have been just a few plays away from stunning the home crowd.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Two straight Austin Grammer interceptions and a 28-0 Golden Gopher lead had Middle Tennessee fans talking about next week in the second quarter of today's game on the road at Minnesota.

MT began to fight their way back into the game but the deficit was too much as the Blue Raiders fell 35-24 at Minnesota.

It was only a handful of questionable decisions and a few bad plays but it was enough to be down four possessions at halftime.

Let's take a closer  look at a few of those plays.

15:00 2nd MTSU 2nd and 14

Right at the start of the second quarter, Austin Grammer threw his first interception of the season. The Golden Gophers' Jaylen Myrick came up with the pick and took it 31 yards into the end zone.

In the next possession, some of that confidence we had in MT's starting quarterback began to fade as Grammer threw his second interception of the day on the following possession. It only took the Golden Gophers one play to make that hurt. Mitch Leidner found Maxx Williams, wide open in the end zone to make the score 21-0 Minnesota.

4:29 2nd Quarter MTSU 4th and 5  from Minnesota 31.

When you're looking for moral victories in a game you have no business winning, you take the points. Stockstill and company looked at it as an opportunity to get back into the game. I loved the decision.It's FBS vs FBS. Try to get seven and cut the lead to 14. However, the play call couldn't have been worse. A handoff right up the middle, where Jordan Parker could only pick up 2 yards.

I'm a full believer in the sports edition of the butterfly effect, so who knows if it would have mattered but had MTSU taken the field goal (and made the field goal early in the 4th quarter) those points could have proved to be big later in the game. However, again, under these circumstances, I agree with the decision.

Heading into the locker room down 28-0 Rick Stockstill and Middle Tennessee either made appropriate adjustments or Minnesota became disinterested and a little lackadaisical.

On a 2nd and 19, a hole opened up for Jordan Parker and he took it 39 yards into Golden Gopher territory. On the next play from scrimmage, Reggie Whatley took it the remaining 44 yards for the first Middle Tennessee score of the game. Whatley led the rushing attack with 84 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On the ensuing Blue Raider possession, Grammer found his groove. First completing a 27 yard pass to Ed'Marques Batties, then going 39 yards down the far sideline to Henry.

Setting up the play that, you could say,  took away any chance Middle Tennessee had at a comeback.

3rd Quarter 3rd and goal from the six

Grammer lofted a beautiful ball to the top right corner of the end zone, where Terry Pettis hauled in the catch while despite being hit by Minnesota's Craig James. Pettis appeared to have come up with the play of the game but the call was overturned.

Take a look.

I didn't expect the call to be confirmed but I was stunned to see it didn't stand.Pass interference was called but MT was forced into kicking a field goal.

The teams traded touchdowns to close out the 3rd quarter. A 48 yard run from Cobb put Minnesota up 35-10.For Middle Tennesee it was a blocked punt, followed immediately by a Whatley 12 yard touchdown carry.

Nice to see several Blue Raider faithful made the trip and stayed after halftime.

4th Quarter Middle Tennessee Ball 2nd and 8

The Blue Raiders would fall victim to a play under review once again. Another incredible catch, this time by Batties. The transfer tipped the ball into the air and at first glance appeared to have hauled it in before going out of bounds.

This was originally called incomplete and the ruling on the field would stand.

What I don't understand is, how was there enough evidence to overturn the touchdown but not enough to overturn that play, where it appears obvious the left leg touches the green first?

I must be seeing it wrong and that might be the reason I am not an official reviewer for the NCAA.

The drive would continue thanks to a 10-yard scamper from Grammer but it would result in a 41-yard missed FG.

MTSU would tack on seven more points on Grammer's only touchdown of the day, when he found Marcus Henry for three yards to give us our final score.

The sophomore quarterback threw for 255 yards 1 TD and 3 interceptions. I think we can all agree that despite throwing three passes to the wrong team, Grammer looked pretty good again today. Of course we would like to see that completion percentage be a little better but for his first road game as a starter....I'd say he did just fine.

We'll go more in-depth into this game later on in the week and get you ready for the Blackout at Floyd Stadium when the Toppers come to town!