Middle Tennessee vs. Charlotte prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Blue Raiders and 49ers on Saturday in Charlotte, NC.
Middle Tennessee vs. Charlotte Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 19 – 2:00 p.m. ET
Where: McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC
TV Broadcast: ESPN3
The Blue Raiders (6-4, 3-3 Conference USA) fell apart in the second half of their road game against Marshall last week, as the Thundering Herd used four Chase Litton touchdowns and 109 rushing yards from Anthony Anderson to claim a surprising 42-17 win. Middle Tennessee had a 17-14 lead at the break before being steamrolled in the second half. Richie James had 122 yards on 12 catches for the Blue Raiders.
Meanwhile, Brad Lambert’s 49ers (4-6, 3-3) dropped a very tough home game to Rice last Saturday, as Tyler Stehling threw a touchdown pass and ran for two more scores to cap the Owls’ come-from-behind 22-21 victory. Stehling finished with 279 passing yards and ran for 93 more as Rice won its first C-USA game of the season after being down 21-0 midway through the second quarter.
When these two teams met last year in Murfreesboro, Brent Stockstill threw a career-high five touchdown passes, Jordan Parker ran for three scores and the Blue Raiders easily handled the 49ers in a 73-14 win. Stockstill was 23-of-27 passing for 369 yards, while Charlotte’s Kalif Phillips rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown, and Uriah LeMay returned a Middle Tennessee onside kick 48 yards for a score.
What To Know About Middle Tennessee
Rick Stockstill’s Blue Raiders suffered a disastrous injury in their 45-25 home loss to UTSA two weeks ago, as the head coach’s star quarterback son was lost for the remainder of the regular season after breaking his right collarbone (non-throwing arm). Redshirt freshman John Urzua is now the new No. 1 for the remainder of the season, and he wasn’t great last week in the bad loss to Marshall. He went 25 of 37 through the air for 220 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Star running back I’Tavius Mathers was also held in check, as he had just 45 yards on 15 carries, although he did reach the end zone. Stockstill has no choice but to have his team rally around Urzua moving forward. The offense is designed to be quarterback-friendly, but Urzua needs to be more accurate and better protect the football. That did not happen last week in his first career start.
What to Know About Charlotte
One week after the 49ers rallied on the road for a 38-27 win behind the play of quarterback Hasaan Klugh, which was the young program’s best win since transitioning into FBS, the 49ers essentially gave back that good win with a bad home loss to Rice. The 49ers blew a 21-0 lead to one of the poorer programs in the FBS. Charlotte is an improved bunch and had won three of its previous four games before last week’s loss, but the setback against the Owls was tough to swallow. The good news is that the offense looks much different with Klugh at quarterback, as he is able to create something out of nothing on broken plays. The North Carolina A&T transfer is a very good runner but leaves a lot to be desired as a passer. Still, he brings an element to the offense that it did not have when he was on the bench.
Offense: Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders are averaging 496.0 yards per game, although this is a different offense without Stockstill. However, Mathers is a valuable weapon as a rusher and a pass-catcher.
Defense: Even. Middle Tennessee is worse against the run, while Charlotte is more porous against the pass.
Special Teams: Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders’ Canon Rooker is 15-of-18 on field goals this season.
Coaching: Middle Tennessee. Stockstill has become an institution in Murfreesboro.
Intangibles: Charlotte. The Blue Raiders are at a crossroads of sorts, while Charlotte will be playing at home.
Matchup To Watch
Ball protection vs. Ball protection
In last year’s meeting between these two teams, the 49ers had four first-half turnovers and seven overall, which did not help their cause in the 73-14 loss. Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee had four turnovers last week as it tries to get used to a new quarterback. Neither team can afford many mistakes in this one.
Spread: Middle Tennessee -3.5
Middle Tennessee vs. Charlotte Prediction
The 49ers are playing better football in the second half of the year, while the Blue Raiders are trying to get used to life after Stockstill. Mathers is coming off of his worse performance of the season, so I would expect a big bounce back effort because he is one of the best players in C-USA. Urzua will play a little bit better than last week, which should be good enough for Middle Tennessee to break its two-game skid in a close win.
Middle Tennessee vs. Charlotte Score Prediction: Middle Tennessee 34, Charlotte 27