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Middle Tennessee (2-1) at Florida Atlantic (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Stadium (30,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: CSS. Home Record: MT 2-0, FAU 0-0. Away Record: MT 0-1, FAU 1-2. Neutral Record: MT 0-0, FAU 0-0. Conference Record: MT 0-0, FAU 0-1. Series Record: MT leads, 7-3.
GAME NOTES: Former Sun Belt foes will take the rivalry to Conference USA, when the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders take on the Florida Atlantic Owls at FAU Stadium.
Both schools are in their first season as members of C-USA after being fellow members of the Sun Belt Conference since 2004. In that time the Blue Raiders hold a 7-3 edge in the all-time series, including wins in seven of the previous eight matchups.
Cody Clark knocked in a 40-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining to lift Middle Tennessee to a 17-15 victory over Memphis last time out. The Blue Raiders are now sporting a 2-1 record as they get set for their first conference matchup as a Conference USA squad.
FAU dropped its first two games of the season, including a 31-13 defeat to East Carolina in its C-USA opener. However, the Owls managed to earn a 28-10 win over South Florida to get in the win column for the first time this season. FAU has just four wins combined in the last two seasons.
Middle Tennessee did not have its best offensive game of the season against Memphis, amassing just 284 yards of total offense, but it was enough to win. The Blue Raiders are averaging 387 yards per game and had posted 400-yard efforts in the first two games.
Jordan Parker has been a major reason for the success on offense. Parker leads the league in rushing yards (320) while tying for second in rushing touchdowns (three). Parker accounted for 55 yards on 14 carries against Memphis.
In the passing game Tavarres Jefferson has been one of the more productive receivers in the conference, and really the only threat for the Blue Raiders. Jefferson has brought in 17 passes for 213 yards, though he has yet to score. No other player on the team is averaging more than 35 yards per game, although Kyle Griswould (12 receptions, 96 yards, TD) has been vital in short passing plays.
Getting the ball to Jefferson and Griswould is quarterback Logan Kilgore, who has been inconsistent under center with just two touchdowns to four interceptions. He has completed 61.8 percent of his pass attempts but is averaging less than 200 yards passing per game.
Where Middle Tennessee did have success against Memphis was on defense. The Blue Raiders were out-gained in the contest (350-284) but the 350 yards they allowed was well below their season average which stands at 410.7 yards per game.
T.T. Barber has been the most important member of the unit, making his presence felt all over the field. Barber leads the team in tackles (30) and tackles for loss (3.0), while recording a sack and an interception. Middle Tennessee is fifth in Conference USA in tackles for loss (20.0).
For FAU, the 28 points it scored against USF was somewhat of an offensive eruption. The Owls had managed to tally just 19 points combined in their first two games as well as fewer than 300 yards of offense in each contest. The Owls still had just 228 yards against the Bulls with two defensive touchdowns accounting for the spike in point production.
The Owls certainly can't blame the poor offense on lack of creativity. FAU is one of the few teams in the country to utilize a two-quarterback system. Jaquez Johnson (30-of-51, 243 yards, 124 yards rushing) is the dual-threat option, while Greg Hankerson (19-of-37, 150 yards) is more of a pocket passer. Each had double digit completions against South Florida.
Jenson Stoshak (four receptions, 81 yards) is the leading pass catcher in terms of yardage but he had zero receptions against USF. Daniel McKinney (11 receptions, 80 yards) and William Dukes (nine receptions, 66 yards, TD) have been the more consistent threats.
Jonathan Wallace is second to Johnson in rushing attempts with 33 but he leads the team in yards with 143. Wallace had his best game of the season against USF with 65 yards and a score on 13 carries.
The yardage total the Owls gave up on defense to the Bulls was more in line with their season average. FAU has let up just over 370 yards per game, which is good enough for fifth in Conference USA.
Adarius Glanton fills the role of do-it-all defender for the Owls with a team- high in tackles (26) and tackles for loss (3.5) to go along with 1.5 sacks. Cory Henry returned a fumble 10 yards for a touchdown and D'Joun Smith scored on a 75-yard interception return against South Florida.
Last season Middle Tennessee defeated FAU 31-17, while both were members of the Sun Belt Conference. A shift to Conference USA won't change the result much.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Middle Tennessee 30, Florida Atlantic 21
09/18 10:36:09 ET