Vanderbilt vs. Middle Tennessee fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, September 1
Game Time: 7:30 pm ET
Venue: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN
Network: SEC Network
Vanderbilt (0-0) vs. Middle Tennessee (0-0) Game Preview
Middle Tennessee was good enough last season to shock Syracuse 30-23, and it went on to get bowl eligible with a late run, finishing with a fun Camellia Bowl win over Arkansas State.
Vanderbilt didn’t go bowling, but it dominated the Blue Raiders in the opener, getting three touchdown passes from Kyle Shurmur and a brilliant defensive performance – not allowing a third down conversion and giving up just 215 yards – in a 28-6 breeze.
This year, Middle Tennessee has another great offense – at least, the passing game should rock – but Shurmur is back for a Commodore attack that can throw, too.
With a trip to Notre Dame and South Carolina coming up, a loss for Vandy would potentially lead to a brutal first month of the season. The Blue Raiders get a trip to Georgia in two weeks – pulling off an upset like they did in 2005 would be a really, really big deal for Conference USA.
One Reason Why Middle Tennessee Will Win
This time around, Brent Stockstill should be able to get the passing game going.
Last year, he and the Blue Raiders couldn’t generate much of anything, with their star passer connecting on just 18-of-31 throws for 166 yards and a score with a pick. He dinked and dunked, couldn’t get anything cranked up deep, and was under pressure all game long.
The Commodore secondary should be fine, and there’s plenty of talent, but it’s not going to take a little bit to get all the parts together. Most of the time, when teams tried to throw last season, it worked.
With a stronger receiving corps this season, and with a veteran in Stockstill doing his thing, the Blue Raider O will go now.
One Reason Why Vanderbilt Will Win
Middle Tennessee will be able to throw, but the Commodores – for the second year in a row – should be able to do it better.
Shurmur connected on 20-of-28 throws for 296 yards and three scores in last year’s win, overcoming a mediocre day from the ground game with an efficient day through the air.
Middle Tennessee’s defense has experience, but the secondary has to start making more big plays, coming up with just five interceptions and getting dinked and dunked on throughout last season. The Commodores have more talent across the board, and if Shurmur outplays Stockstill, forget it.
What’s Going To Happen
Even with a potentially good air attack, Vanderbilt’s offense still won’t blow up. However, the lines will be stronger, the defense should be good enough to hold up on third downs for the second year in a row, and the Blue Raider ground game won’t go anywhere.
It’s not exactly going to be the type of game that provides hope for Commodore fans that the team is going to surprise, but it’ll hit the mid-distance putt.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Vanderbilt 30, Middle Tennessee 17
Line: Vanderbilt -4.5, o/u: 54.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 4
Must See Rating: 2.5
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