Middle Tennessee (2-1) at Georgia Tech (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 12:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000) -- Atlanta, Georgia. Television: RSN. Home Record: MT 1-1, GT 2-1. Away Record: MT 1-0, GT 0-1. Neutral Record: MT 0-0, GT 0-0. Conference Record: MT 1-0, GT 1-2. Series Record: Georgia Tech leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets take a break from their league schedule on Saturday afternoon to host the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Georgia Tech is coming off a 42-36 overtime loss to Miami last Saturday. The Yellow Jackets have already played three ACC games, although they are just 1-2 in those contests. This weekend's tilt marks their fourth straight home game in a stretch that will see the team play six of seven in Atlanta.
Middle Tennessee will have had two weeks to prepare for this game ever since a 48-30 triumph at Memphis on Sept. 15. The Blue Raiders have won two in a row after opening the season with a home loss to McNeese State. They'll resume Sun Belt Conference play next weekend at home against ULM.
Georgia Tech owns a 2-0 series advantage, which includes a 49-21 win at Middle Tennessee last September.
Middle Tennessee's offense has picked up over the last two games, averaging nearly 40 points in that span. One thing the Blue Raiders do particularly well is protect the quarterback, as they are one of just three teams nationally to have not allowed a sack so far this season (Air Force and Oklahoma State). After ranking second nationally in fewest sacks allowed a year ago, MT has picked up right where it left off despite four new starters up front. Logan Kilgore took advantage of that ample time in the pocket against Memphis, completing 22-of-30 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Wideout Anthony Amos notched his second straight 100-yard receiving game, finishing with nine catches and 128 yards -- both career-highs. Benny Cunningham paced the ground attack with a team-high 57 yards and two TDs on 11 carries. The 48 points were the most for MT since racking up 56 against Austin Peay in 2010.
MT's defense also got in on the fun against Memphis, forcing four turnovers. The four takeaways were the most for the Blue Raiders since forcing six against FAU last season. For the second consecutive week, they limited their opponent to less than 100 rushing yards, which has not happened since 2009. Memphis was held to just 74 yards on 33 rushing attempts. The Tigers found some success against MT's secondary, as 325 of their 399 total yards came through the air. MT must also do a better job of getting off the field, as the Tigers were able to keep drives alive by converting 8-of-16 third downs and 3- of-4 on fourth down. Khari Burke and Roderic Blunt shared team-high honors with seven tackles. Each player recovered a fumble, while two of Blunt's stops came behind the line of scrimmage.
Despite having lost in overtime for the second time already this season, Georgia Tech's offense has been operating in high gear. The Yellow Jackets enter the weekend ranked third nationally in rushing offense (352.3 ypg) and 13th in scoring (42.0 ppg). As a team, they are averaging a staggering 6.4 yards per rush. Quarterback Tevin Washington has operated the option game to near perfection, averaging a team-best 75.0 rushing yards per tilt to go along with a team-best seven rushing TDs. Nine different Yellow Jackets have already scored at least once on the ground this season. Against Miami, Washington threw for 132 yards and scored three times on the ground, but he was stopped on fourth-and-inches on the first possession of overtime.
Just moments after that turnover on downs, Miami's Mike James scored untouched on a 25-yard run to give the Hurricanes a wild win in overtime. By that point, the Yellow Jackets defenders seemed to have the wind taken out of their sales. Trailing 36-19, Miami quarterback Stephen Morris rallied his team all the way back to force overtime, tossing a touchdown pass to James with 27 seconds to play in regulation. All told, Morris torched the Tech secondary for 436 yards through the air as Miami scored the game's final 23 points. GT allowed the 'Canes to convert an efficient 11-of-16 third downs to keep the chains moving.
This matchup will favor whichever defense is able to get stops and get off the field. Both offenses can certainly move the ball, but Georgia Tech has a distinct advantage playing at home with its clock-eating option game. In addition, Middle Tennessee is just 2-9 in games played against ACC foes in its history.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Tech 38, Middle Tennessee 27
09/26 10:38:31 ET