Middle Tennessee State, of Conference USA, and Michigan, of the Big Ten Conference, will square off in Ann Arbor at the Big House. The Blue Raiders are coming off a strong 2018 where they finished 8-6 and 7-1 in conference play. Michigan only had one loss in conference play as well at 8-1, and 10-3 overall. This will be the first-ever matchup between MTSU and Michigan.
MTSU’s defensive coordinator, Scott Shafer, was defensive coordinator under Rich Rodriguez at Michigan for only one season. He left after a disastrous 3-9 season which saw his defense give up a program-record 28.9 point per game. His defensive style is known as one of the more aggressive in college football. They will bring a lot of looks and pressures.
Michigan is favored by 34.5 and the over/under is 54.5
Middle Tennessee State Looking to Rebuild
The Blue Raiders will be putting out a new quarterback, after the coach’s son, Brent Stockstill graduated. The two options are Asher O’Hara and Randall Johnson. O’Hara did play one game last year and is a run first quarterback. Johnson, who is 6’5″, was the player of the year in his junior college conference is a dual-threat.
Why the offensive line, they lost three starters, and QB position will be inexperienced, their skill positions are some of the most experienced in the country. Ty Lee is the active receptions leader in the NCAA with 213. Running backs Chaton Mobley, Terelle West and Brad Anderson are all returning. Mobley will get most of the carries and Anderson is more of a third-down back, but the grouping combined for 1,692 yards from scrimmage last year.
The aggressive MTSU defense returns six starters, including all-conference players Reed Blankenship and Khalil Brooks. The biggest question mark will be cornerback play where they lost their top three contributors from last year.
Middle Tennessee faced three major-conference foes, all from the SEC, last year, losing road games to Vanderbilt (35-7), Georgia (49-7), and Kentucky (34-23).
Michigan Looking for National Title
To John Harbaugh, and his Wolverines, a Big Ten conference title is secondary on their goal list behind bringing home a National Championship. They hired Josh Gattis away from Alabama to run the offense, in hopes to ignite the offense.
Gattis will have talented quarterback Shea Patterson to work with. They plan to run a lot of run-pass option to utilize Patterson’s athletic ability. He will have an extremely talented group of wide receivers and an experienced group of lineman to help the transition to the new offense.
Red-shirt Sophmore Dylan McCaffrey will also take some snaps under center, but it is unclear how much he will be used. The pressure of the Blue Raiders should open up the potential for big plays from this new offense.
Michigan’s defense will be looking to get plenty of pressure, with a young defensive line, and returning SAM Linebacker, Josh Uche, who led the team with seven sacks last year. This defense lost a lot of talent from last year and will be the biggest question mark if they hope to contend for a national title.
Returning cornerback Ambry Thomas is questionable as he is still battling colitis.
This was a good Middle Tennessee State team last year, but losing the programs best quarterback is going to hurt them on offense. I do think the Blue Raiders will be able to score some points on this Wolverine defense that is not as strong as in year’s past.
The problem is that upfront on both sides of the ball, MTSU cannot match up with Michigan. That combined with Michigan’s superior talent on offense, and a secondary that is young for MTSU leads me to believe that the Wolverines are going to put up some points.
Prediction: Michigan 45, Middle Tennessee State 17
I’m taking the over 54.5 for 2 units, and MTSU to cover at +34.5 to 1 unit.