Date/Time: Saturday, November 12, 3:30 PM ET
TV: ESPN3 (Play-By-Play: Jake Rose/Analyst: Jeremy Kellem/Sideline: Abigail Martin)
Radio: Learfield/Charlotte Sports Network (Play-By-Play: Matt Swierad/Analyst: Al Wallace)
Location: Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN
Betting Line: MTSU -11 O/U 67.0
All-Time Series Record: 49ers trail, 2-4 (Charlotte won most recent matchup 42-39 on September 24, 2021)
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&C’s apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details
Charlotte looks to bounce back against MTSU, after suffering a lopsided loss in Jerry Richardson Stadium. The Niners excel when they’re able to get off to fast starts, last week’s game was the opposite.
WKU kept Charlotte on their toes by utilizing a fast tempo playing style, accompanied with a healthy amount of hurry up plays. Even with film on the Hilltoppers game plan, the Niners could not seem to get aligned and set in time for each snap.
Here’s Coach Rossomando on the Niners’ defensive struggles against WKU
“They didn’t really wear us down, they were snapping the ball before we were ready. We needed to communicate better and get the calls in there faster. We’ve been working on those things this week”
Despite losing the time of possession battle, Western Kentucky put up 59 points, to Charlotte’s 7.
This week’s test for the Niners will be completely different. In MTSU’s four wins this season, running back Frank Peasant averages nearly 100 yards per game and a touchdown. In their five losses, Frank averages only 30 yards per game with zero touchdowns.
Stopping the run will be Charlotte’s main focus. Unfortunately, the Niners have not shown the ability to consistently stifle a team’s rushing attack, ranking second to last in rushing defense in C-USA, only behind Louisiana Tech.
The same cannot be said for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee currently ranks first in the C-USA in rushing defense, allowing only 3.7 yards per rush.
Charlotte will have their hands full with MTSU’s defense. The Blue Raiders have forced 17 turnovers this season, while also ranking Top 10 nationally in defensive touchdowns (4th) and red zone defense (8th).
This spells trouble for the Niners offensive line. Chris Reynolds has shown throughout the season that he is more than capable of making the necessary plays to win a game. However, that task becomes exponentially harder with minimal time in the pocket.
Middle Tennessee cornerback Decorian Patterson leads the conference in interceptions (top ten in the nation). Here’s Charlotte wide receiver Elijah Spencer on the challenges that MTSU’s secondary poses:
“It’s the same challenge every week. It’s more concepts, schemes, preparation. I don’t see it as a big or unique challenge”.
Charlotte spent this week smoothing out the kinks on defense, while also aiming to get the team on the same page. In last week’s post game presser, RB Shadrick Byrd stated, “Once everybody walks in the building with the same mentality, Charlotte football will be perfectly fine”.
If the Niners can get out to a fast start, they will be able to give Middle Tennessee headaches throughout the game.
Middle Tennessee Preview
Middle Tennessee has seen both ups and downs this season. The Blue Raiders began the season 0-1, after losing to James Madison University. Following the loss, MTSU seemed to turn a corner, winning their next three games and taking down the #25 Miami Hurricanes.
MTSU has been 1-3 since their upset against Miami. The Blue Raiders play their best football when the defense shows up and creates turnovers. Defensive End Jordan Ferguson will be a key for the Raiders, as they look to win the battle in the trenches early. Jordan is coming off a game in which he had 4.0 TFLs at LA Tech, equalling the 4th most ever for an MTSU player.
Middle Tennessee’s offense ranks near the middle of the pack in both passing (6th) and rushing (8th). The Blue Raiders don’t fare well in high scoring shootouts. Quarterback Chase Cunningham has struggled at times this season, having a QBR of 49.6 (88th in the nation). When MTSU’s rushing attack is not productive, they struggle mightily.
MTSU does not give their opponents any favors on special teams. Punter Kyle Ulbrich leads the C-USA and ranks 5th nationally in punting with a career best 46.3 yard average. The Blue Raiders are able to consistently force the opposition to drive the length of the field in order to put points on the board.
The new coach - honeymoon phase seems to have worn off for the Niners, as they get ready to take on MTSU at Johnny Floyd Stadium. The Niners have shown that giving up on this season is not an option, they intend to finish on a good note.
Nevertheless, the better team will win this game. Charlotte will have trouble putting up points against MTSUs stout defensive line and secondary.
Final Score: Charlotte 14, Middle Tennessee 31