Week 8 – Middle Tennessee at Mississippi St

Posted Oct 19, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction – Middle Tennessee at Mississippi State

Middle Tennessee (4-2) at Mississippi State (6-0) Oct. 20, 7:00, ESPN2

Here's The Deal: Watch out, Mississippi State. The forgotten unbeaten team in the BCS and SEC mix, MSU has slugged its way to 6-0 and comes in on an eight game winning streak. However, with road games at Alabama and LSU in the next three weeks, wrapped around the date with Texas A&M, there are much bigger fish to fry as the Bulldogs try to stay in the national title chase. However, Middle Tennessee is just dangerous enough to pull off the upset if everything goes right.

The Blue Raiders and have shown just enough quirkiness to be able to rise up and rock if the offense is working. They stunned Georgia Tech in a wild 49-28 win and blew away Memphis, but they also started off the season with a loss to McNeese State and were picked clean in a loss to ULM. 3-0 on the road, the team has a good, tough mentality to play the spoiler, but they're going to have to overcome some key personnel losses and have to hope the defense can hold up just enough to keep the game within reach. It's all Sun Belt the rest of the way, so this is the last shot to make a national statement.

Why Middle Tennessee Might Win: Could MSU be thinking about the Tide? The Bulldogs might be unbeaten, but they have a bad habit of playing down to their competition. It took a dogfight to get by a Troy team that's not as good as Middle Tennessee, and it was a bit too much of a fight to get past Kentucky. The Blue Raider offensive line is playing at an extremely high level and is terrific in pass protection, giving the ultra-efficient Logan Kilgore plenty of time to work. With no pass rush to speak of, MSU could have plenty of problems with the short to midrange Blue Raider passing game. Turnover margin should be a key – MSU is No. 1 in the nation and live off of mistakes, but Middle Tennessee is stingy with the ball.

Why Mississippi State Might Win: The Blue Raider defense hasn't exactly been tight. There's no pass rush, the secondary gives up huge plays in bunches, and anyone who wants to run the ball with any semblance of power has been able to do it. 112th in the nation in pass efficiency defense, Middle Tennessee will have a nightmare of a time against a Bulldog passing game that should give Tyler Russell all the time he needs to operate. He's heating up to combine with a great running game; the Bulldogs should be able to move the ball however they want to. Defensively, MSU should have a much easier time than expected because …

What To Watch Out For: Bennie Cunningham is lost for the season with a knee injury. The Blue Raiders always seem to find speedy backs who tear off yards in chunks, but Cunningham is a massive loss, getting hurt after running 36 times for 230 yards and two scores and with a 217-yard, five touchdown day against Georgia Tech on the résumé. Freshman Jordan Parker ran for 117 yards on 17 carries against Florida Atlantic, but he hasn't been used enough to count on as a workhorse. The Middle Tennessee offense will be Logan Kilgore and the passing game or bust.

What Will Happen: The banged up Blue Raiders will desperately miss Cunningham, but the bigger problem will be a defense that won't be able to hold up against the Mississippi State balance. The Bulldogs haven't exactly been able rise up and put away the mediocre teams without a problem, and this week won't be an exception.

CFN Prediction: Mississippi State 31 … Middle Tennessee 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Mississippi State -19.5 O/U: 56
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 2