Middle Tennessee managed a bowl win last season, but it was hoping for a little more than a 7-6 record. That was partly due to quarterback Brent Stockstill missing six Games in the middle of the season, Four of them losses. Healthy again and entering his senior year, Stockstill will try and upend Florida Atlantic in the East division. It won’t be easy, as the Blue Raiders have +1150 odds to win the Conference to go with an over/under of seven wins at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Stockstill doesn’t have Richie James to throw to, but he has plenty of tools around him to reach 2016’s numbers of 3,233 yards and 31 touchdowns. Ty Lee (955 yards, 5 TDs) will be set for an even bigger season at receiver, while CJ Windham (351 yards) and Patrick Smith (329 yards) take on bigger roles. Running back is loaded after the top two guys were injured last season. Brad Anderson (829 total yards) and Terelle West (308 yards) are the speedy options, while Tavares Thomas (507 yards, 9 TDs) works between the tackles. The Raiders should have success doing that behind a solid line that features two guys headed for all-Conference honors at the end of the year in Chandler Brewer and Robert Behanan. After averaging only 25.5 points per Game last year, it’s a good bet that they’ll get above 30 assuming Stockstill is healthy the entire way. As of note, they scored 30 points in six of his seven starts last year, with the lone down performance coming against Vandy.
The defense is also in a good situation after it took on a bigger role in 2017 and only allowed 24.7 points per Game. With eight starters returning, the Blue Raiders should have enough to compete with FAU at the top of the division. There’s talent returning at every level with senior ends Walter Brady and Jahmal Jones forming a solid pass rush to go with linebacker Kahlil Brooks, who led the team with 7.5 sacks. Safety Jovante Moffatt led the team with 101 tackles last year and is joined by senior corner Darryl Randolph in the secondary. If the offense can hold onto the ball a little better with Stockstill running things, that should also lead to better numbers for the defense.
The problem for MTSU is in the Schedule as Four of its first five Games could be losses as it travels to Vandy and Georgia before hosting FAU and then going to Marshall in back-to-back weeks. Throw in a late road Game at Kentucky and it’s hard to take the over for seven wins. On the plus side, the Blue Raiders have one of the best quarterbacks in Conference-USA and as long as he returns to previous levels, the offense will be one of the best and the defense can do the same with enough returning starters. Getting past FAU will be tough and the same goes for Marshall, but the Raiders should be a better overall team this year assuming they don’t get the injury bug again.
2018 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Football Schedule
Sept. 1 at Vanderbilt
Sept. 8 vs. UT Martin
Sept. 15 at Georgia
Sept. 29 vs. Florida Atlantic
Oct. 5 at Marshall
Oct. 13 at Florida International
Oct. 20 vs. Charlotte
Oct. 27 at Old Dominion
Nov. 2 vs. Western Kentucky
Nov. 10 at UTEP
Nov. 17 at Kentucky
Nov. 24 vs. UAB