Apparently there’s something about tropical climates that brings out great things in Middle Tennessee football.
MTSU beat a San Diego State team that was favored to win the Hawaii Bowl by seven points on Saturday. The Blue Raiders end the season with an 8-5 record on the season and a second consecutive bowl win. They also won five out of their last six games of 2022.
Defensive lineman and redshirt senior Jordan Ferguson was named the Player of the Game with five tackles, a TFL, a pass deflection, and an interception on defense. He also played offense in jumbo packages for the offense and caught an eight-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Ferguson’s interception was one of five turnovers that the MTSU defense forced in the game. Teldrick Ross had an interception and a fumble recovery. Christian Dixon also recovered a fumble and Decorian Patterson picked off a pass. Patterson finishes the season with seven interceptions, which is tied for the FBS lead.
Neither team scored a touchdown in the second half. MTSU kicker Zeke Rankin finished the day with four makes in five attempts while San Diego State’s Jack Browning made three out of four.
Rankin’s 37-yard field goal with 2:05 remaining was the go-ahead score for the Blue Raiders.
While San Diego State’s offense had issues, evidenced by the aforementioned turnovers, MTSU’s also struggled heavily, save for some critical explosive plays in the first half. The Blue Raiders finished the night with a net rushing yardage of -66. Redshirt senior quarterback Chase Cunningham completed 26 of 43 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Sophomore Jaylin Lane caught ten balls for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Cunningham was sacked seven times by the SDSU defense on the night. The Aztecs also tackled MTSU ballcarriers in the backfield 11 times.
Rushing inefficiency, to a lesser extent, was also a problem for San Diego State. The Aztecs were held to just 55 yards rushing on the day on 32 attempts. Quarterback Jaylen Mayden, who began the season playing safety, completed 19 passes on 43 attempts for 309 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. If anything, that stat line is an additional testament to what a defensive battle we had in Honolulu on a bright, Hawaiian Christmas Eve.
The victory was C-USA’s third this bowl season out of six attempts.