North Texas preview

The Blue Raiders return home this Saturday to host longtime rival North Texas in a Sun Belt matchup for the final time. BlueRaiderZone.com is here to give you an exclusive look at the ins and outs of this crucial conference game.

The 4-3 (2-1) Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders play host in a pivotal Sun Belt game against the Mean Green of North Texas 3-4 (2-1). Not only does this came help clear up the standings in the Belt but it is also a chance for Middle to revenge the 59-7 loss suffered at the hands of the Mean Green last year.

Middle Tennessee comes into the contest after a 45-3 loss to the undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs, while the Mean Green are flying high after a 30-23 win on national TV over Louisiana-Lafayette.

North Texas comes into the game ranked 44th in the nation in rushing yards, averaging 184 yards a game. The Mean Green uses a two-headed rushing attack with Brandin Byrd and Antoinne Jimmerson - both averaging over 57 yards a game and having found the end zone two and three times respectively.

The key for the Blue Raider defense is, and I know I've said this every game, is stopping the run and forcing Derek Thompson to throw the ball. While Thompson has thrown for 8 TDs he has also five picks on the season. If the Blue Raider pass rush can put pressure on Thompson I think we can force him to press and make mistakes (i.e. throw interceptions).

When it comes to the offensive side of the ball the Blue Raiders have to RUN IT! We all know Benny is out, and it is a big loss, but the bright spot of this team in the spring was the depth at running back. Between Parker, Calhoun, Whatley, and Bryson Middle needs to rush for 200 yards and let Logan Kilgore do what he does best: manage the game. As I have said before, if the game rests on the arm of Kilgore I think it can mean trouble for Ole' Blue as North Texas has picked off nine passes this year.

The bottom line of this game is how Middle Tennessee bounces back from the worst loss since '06 when they were shut out 59-0 against Oklahoma. The interesting thing to look at is the game after the Sooners in '06 was North Texas. The outcome? 35-0 Blue Raiders.

Prediction
Middle Tennessee wins 35-28

I think the Blue Raiders will come out strong with the hype of it being the blackout game and take control early. However, turnovers could be the issue that keeps North Texas in this game. Middle wins but I think it is ugly.

Kickoff: 2:30 CST
TV: ESPN3

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