2013 schedule has a lot to offer

The announcement that Middle Tennessee would officially join the Conference USA in 2013 was quickly followed by the release of the Blue Raiders' first C-USA home and road opponents. Combined with the out of conference games put together by athletic director Chris Massaro, 2013 has the potential to be the most exciting slate in program history.

For a fan base that's often said name recognition would bring bigger crowds – and therefore bring new fans into the fold – 2013 is going to be an opportunity to do just that. Middle Tennessee will host C-USA opponents ECU, Marshall, FIU and UTEP next season in addition to in-state Memphis and Western Carolina of the FCS.

The Blue Raiders' road slate is also exciting for fans. Middle Tennessee will travel to Southern Miss, UAB, North Texas and FAU to compete in league play. In addition to those four road games, Middle beefs up its schedule with road games at North Carolina and BYU.

Some fans will look at this schedule and lament the fact that the Blue Raiders are paired up against four former Sun Belt opponents, but the marquee games at home combined with several road games within reasonable driving range more than makes up for that in this writer's mind.

On top of that, Rick Stockstill and crew have two opportunities to topple traditional football powers in BYU and UNC, which would only further the momentum the program started in 2012 when they went 8-4.

While dates aren't concrete just yet, if Middle Tennessee is able to balance home and away games throughout the season, fans should have a real treat from kickoff to the final snap. Obviously the main goal of any season is to win a conference championship, but for Middle Tennessee the program, there's a lot more on the line in 2013.

Fans are excited about where the team left off last year and the move to Conference USA. In addition, the returning players are undoubtedly eager to redeem themselves after 2012's bowl snub.

It's almost absurd to sit here eight months from the season opener saying that this year has the chance to elevate Middle Tennessee to a whole new level … but at the same time it's almost just as absurd to take a look at the whole situation and NOT form that opinion.

See below for quick reference of Middle Tennessee's home and road games:

Western Carolina
Florida International

North Carolina
Florida Atlantic
North Texas
Southern Miss

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