Blow Me Down! Blue Raiders In Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl

After a 2nd place finish in Conference USA’s East Division and an overall record of 7-5, 6-2 in C-USA, MTSU will make their 5th bowl appearance in 10 years as the Blue Raiders travel to the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl to face Western Michigan. The Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl will be played on Christmas Eve at 11 AM central time.

Potent Pass Attack Propels Raiders

Rick Stockstill was able to build his team’s success immediately by keeping his son in Murfreesboro to play quarterback. Redshirt Freshman Brent Stockstill finished the regular season as the third leading passer in Conference USA with 3,678 yards and 27 touchdowns. Rickie James and Ed’Marques Batties are Middle’s leading receivers with 1,220 and 960 yards, respectively. While the passing game has lit up opposing defenses, the Raider rushing game has struggled to have one running back step up to take the reins as lead back. Jordan Parker, Shane Tucker, and Desmond Anderson have all eclipsed 375 yards on the ground this year, but none of them has surpassed 475 yards.

The Blue Raider defense has given up fewer than 25 points per game in a conference built on high-powered offense. Middle Tennessee defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix has 20 years of coaching experience, including 7 as defensive coordinator in the SEC. The Raiders have been led this year by linebacker T.T. Barber, who has led the Blue Raiders with 88 tackles. The real strength of MTSU’s defense is the secondary, which has intercepted 16 passes this season. Kevin Byard is tied for the C-USA lead with 4 interceptions this year.

Broncos Rowing Boat To Bahamas With Offense

Western Michigan comes into the Bahamas Bowl with a 7-5, 6-2 record in the MAC. The Broncos are led by one of the hottest coaching commodities in the nation, PJ Fleck. The energetic Fleck has built his team around the motto “Row The Boat”, going so far as to do a rowing dance at a pep rally.

The Broncos are led a powerful, balanced offense. Quarterback Zach Terrell has similar statistics to MTSU’s Stockstill, throwing for 3,225 yards and 27 touchdowns on the season. Western Michigan has two 1,000 yard receivers, Daniel Braverman and Corey Davis. The Broncos have also been able to put up yards on the ground, with Jamauri Bogan and Jarvion Franklin each running for at least 700 yards this season.

Defensively, the Broncos have somewhat struggled, giving up 28 points per game in the Mid-American Conference. Western Michigan has been unable to create much pressure, averaging just over 1 sack per game and only forcing 16 turnovers on the season.

This game looks to be one of the most entertaining games of bowl season. Both teams bring in a potent offense and somewhat inconsistent defense. With the talent the Blue Raiders have, Middle Tennessee has a great chance to get their third bowl victory, their first since the 2009 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

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