Date: Friday, November 17th
Start Time: 7 PM CT
TV: CBS Sports Network
Betting: MTSU are favored by 3 according to Oddsshark.
The Series: The Blue Raiders lead the all time series with 34 wins to WKU’s 31 with one tie back in 1925. In their most recent meeting, the Tops were able to sneak out of Murfreesboro with a 44-43 win in a game that went to double overtime.
The Tops (5-5, 3-3 in conference play) have certainly seen better days. With two games remaining on the schedule, WKU’s three-year streak of reaching (and winning) bowl games may be in jeopardy. They’ve lost their last three games in a row, the running game is downright awful, and injuries to important pieces on both sides of the ball have plagued them all year.
Fortunately for them, most of their receiving corps seems to be back to full health with the exception of Kylen Towner who is questionable for Friday night. That’s great news for an offense that has produced more total passing yards (3164) and passing yardage per game (316.4) than any other team in C-USA. What’s particularly impressive is they’ve been able to do that despite an offensive line that’s given up 32 sacks and having, statistically, one of the worst seasons in all of FBS for their position group. That sack total is 120th out of 129 FBS teams.
On defense, Western Kentucky has done fairly well, particularly in defending the pass. Only this week were they overtaken by UTSA as the number one team in C-USA in terms of pass yards allowed per game (granted, UTSA has played one less game). But De’Andre Farris has been nothing short of stellar breaking up 14 passes on the year. With time dwindling to secure a bowl spot, that unit will have to step up to the plate against a pass heavy MTSU offense with their star quarterback returning to form.
The Blue Raiders (5-5, 3-3 in C-USA) have regained some steam in the last few weeks with two straight wins, albeit against inferior opponents. Those victories came against UTEP (0-10) and Charlotte (1-9). Last week against the 49ers, MTSU QB Brent Stockstill set the school record for career passing yards with 8,159 after a 255 yard, three touchdown performance.
Stockstill recently returned from a collarbone injury that he suffered in the second game of the year against Syracuse. In his absence, the Blue Raiders went 2-4 after starting the season 1-1. When Stockstill’s around, they’re simply a better, more reliable offense. They’ve jumped back up to the fifth most passing yards per game in C-USA (247.2), but are twelfth in the league in rushing yards per game (127.3).
Defensively, MTSU is led by linebacker Khalil Brooks. Brooks is third in the league with 13 tackles for loss and six and a half sacks. He and MTSU’s defense, which is in the top four in C-USA in both pass and rush yards allowed, shouldn’t have much of an issue defending WKU’s run game. In the pass game, it should be an interesting matchup for a WKU team that seems to be back to full strength in that department. However, MTSU’s pass rush should be able to get significant pressure on Mike White.
This will likely go the same as Western Kentucky’s last few games: plenty of points scored, but will fall a bit short. The Tops’ defense had a good start to the year, but they’ve begun to fall off, which they cannot afford to do when Stockstill is in the game. Furthermore, MTSU’s defensive front can make this another tough day for WKU’s o-line. Blue Raiders win 35-24.