Start Time: 7:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, Sept. 19
Location: Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Records: Charlotte 2-0, MTSU 1-1. First meeting between these two programs.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: MTSU -20.5. Over/Under: 64.
Charlotte Outlook: No one expected the Charlotte 49ers to be 2-0 at this point in the season. Honestly, no one expected them to get to two wins at any point in the 2015 season.
If Charlotte can continue their impressive offensive play throughout the rest of the season, we could be looking at a team that wins four or more games. The rushing attack is still finding its footing with only 3.5 yards per carry on the season. Kalif Phillis (27/143/1TD) and Andrew Buie (28/136/0TD) are a good 1-2 combo that has combined for 279 yards in two games on the ground. Quarterback Matt Johnson (27-43/431/3TD) is solid with just over 200 yards in the air per game, while connecting with Austin Duke (16/261/2TD) on a regular basis. T.L. Ford II (7/75/0TD) is the only other receiver with more than three catches on the season. Overall, the 49ers have averaged 438 total yards per game and 5.4 yards per play on the season.
The 49ers have looked solid on defense with a rush defense that has given up only 2.9 yards per carry on the season, good for 98 yards allowed per game. The Charlotte pass defense has been even better in giving up only 154 yards per game and 5.1 yards per pass attempt, desite facing an explosive Georgia State passing game in week one. 252 overall yards allowed per game is one of the better two week totals for any Conference USA team, but a 4.0 yards per play allowed is even better and among the best in the FBS. Larry Ogunjobi (8 tkl, 4 tfl) and Zach Duncan (5 tkl, 3 tfl, 1 sack) have combined for seven of the team's 29 tackles for loss so far this season.
MTSU Outlook: The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are heading into this matchup at 1-1 with a dominant win over Jackson State in week one and a loss to Alabama in week two.
The MTSU rushing attack has been through a bit of a struggle so far this season with no back breaking the 100 yard barrier. The team as a whole is rushing for 164 yards per game, but only 3.5 yards per carry on the year. Jordan Parker (24/93/1TD) and Shane Tucker (27/79/0TD) have the majority of the team's carries, combining for 76 yards per game on the ground. MTSU has enjoyed more success passing the ball behind redshirt freshman quarterback Brent Stockstill (46-72/522/4TD). Stockstill struggled versus a talented Alabama defense, but held his own and impressed the Blue Raiders faithful in the loss. Richie James (16/173/0TD) and Ed Batties (12/151/2TD) are by far the top receiving options in the opening two weeks of the season with 28 of the team's 49 overall receptions.
After dominating Jackson State, the Blue Raiders defense struggled a bit versus Alabama in week two. MTSU is still only giving up 3.8 yards per carry and 112.5 yards per game on the ground, proving to be one of the better run defenses in Conference USA. Passing has been another story as they have ben gouged for 291.5 yards per game in the air and 7.0 yards per pass attempt. Part of that came after All-CUSA safety Kevin Byard (10 tkl, 1 tfl, 1 INT) was ejected in the second half versus Alabama for a targeting call. Cavellis Luckett (13 tkl, 1 tfl), T. T. Barber (10 tkl, 2 tfl, 1 sack), Byard, and Quay Watt (10 tkl) are the only double digit tacklers for the Blue Raiders defense.
Prediction: The 49ers are the surprise team of Conference USA as one of only three undefeated teams. MTSU is a huge step forward in competition after Georgia State and Presbyterian in the first two weeks. The Blue Raiders head into this game angry that the score got out of hand versus Alabama due to turnovers and poor second half play. MTSU is playing the first half without All-CUSA safety Kevin Byard, who is serving a suspension due to a targeting call in week two. Expect MTSU to start slowly and possibly trail early versus Charlotte but wake up and put them away in the second half for a comfortable win.