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Middle Tennessee (4-4) at UAB (2-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 2, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Legion Field (71,594) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: FOX College Sports. Home Record: MT 3-1, UAB 1-1. Away Record: MT 1-3, UAB 1-4. Neutral Record: MT 0-0, UAB 0-0. Conference Record: MT 2-2, UAB 1-2. Series Record: UAB leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: A Conference USA bout is on tap for Saturday afternoon, as the UAB Blazers play host to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee's first season as a member of C-USA has been filled with plenty of ups and downs, resulting in a mediocre 4-4 record. The Blue Raiders had been losers of three straight prior to their Oct. 24 contest with Marshall, but they were able to pull to 2-2 in the league following a thrilling 51-49 victory on a last-second touchdown pass from Logan Kilgore to Tavarres Jefferson.
UAB has underwhelmed this season, going just 2-5 while winning only one of its three C-USA matchups. The Blazers dropped a high-scoring affair to Texas-San Antonio last Saturday, 52-31, and are now just 1-4 on the road.
UAB leads the all-time series with Middle Tennessee, 2-1, but the teams have not met since 2000.
The Blue Raiders offense has been below average by C-USA standards this season, ranking ninth in both scoring (26.1 ppg) and yardage (369.6 ypg), but they are fresh off a 585-yard, 51-point explosion in the come-from-behind win over Marshall.
Kilgore had his best outing of the season last week, completing 22-of-40 passes for 277 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. The signal caller is in the midst of a modest senior campaign, completing 61 percent of his passes for 1,363 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine picks.
Middle Tennessee has an explosive running back tandem, with Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley both surpassing the century mark versus Marshall. Parker (653 yards, five TDs) is the league's fourth-leading rusher this season, while Whatley (447 yards, three TDs) isn't far behind.
Jefferson has been the primary beneficiary of Kilgore's passing exploits, hauling in 32 balls for 411 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kyle Griswould has also been effective with 28 receptions, 250 yards and three scores.
As it showed in last week's shootout, Middle Tennessee's defense has been a problem, as it ranks ninth in the league in points allowed per game (32.3) and 12th in yards allowed (450.1). The silver lining for the unit has been its activity in the turnover battle with 22 takeaways (tied for fifth-most in the FBS).
T.T. Barber is well on his way to an All-Conference selection at linebacker, as he has 90 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Kevin Byard has also been outstanding with 70 stops and three picks.
UAB's lackluster campaign has been no fault of the offense, which ranks fifth in the league in scoring 29.3 ppg.
Austin Brown is the starter under center, but while he has taken care of the football with just three interceptions, he has otherwise been mediocre with a .544 completion percentage, 1,199 yards and nine touchdowns. Johnathan Perry has also seen some action, going 29-of-57 for 455 yards, five touchdowns and two picks.
The ground attack is a two-man game for the Blazers, as Darrin Reaves has turned 110 carries into 567 yards and six touchdowns, and Jordan Howard has been arguably even more explosive with 496 yards and two scores on just 72 attempts.
The squad's best playmaker is receiver Jamarcus Nelson, who returned last week after sitting out two games with an injury and caught five passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. Despite the missed time, Nelson has still racked up 471 receiving yards and five touchdowns, while adding a pair of special teams scores as well (one kickoff return, one punt return).
The issue for the Blazers this season has been their porous defense. The unit allows 40.4 ppg and 474.9 ypg, which ranks 117th and 111th in the FBS, respectively.
The defense has only come up with three interceptions, with Jimmy Jean accounting for two of them. Jake Ganus leads the team in both tackles (56) and tackles for loss (6.0), while Diaheem Watkins has logged 3.5 sacks.
With a couple of capable offenses going up against suspect defenses, the points should come in droves, but in the end the Blue Raiders' ability to force turnovers will prove to be the difference as they move above .500 with a hard-fought road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Middle Tennessee 38, UAB 35
10/30 10:37:55 ET
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