MT looks to continue its undefeated streak in Conference USA play after defeating the Old Dominion Monarchs 41-28 on Friday night in Norfolk, Virginia, with a win over Southern Mississippi, who are coming off a 41-23 loss to the Rice Owls.
Middle Tennessee sits atop C-USA eastern division standings with a 2-0 record in conference play, while Southern Miss is in fifth place in the western division with a 0-1 conference record.
Quarterback Austin Grammer hopes to ride the momentum of his huge performance against Old Dominion where he completed 25 of his 30 passing attempts for 259 yards with a pair of touchdowns, accompanied by 67 rushing yards and another pair of touchdowns. Such a performance earned him the designation of Manning Award Star of the Week.
The Golden Eagles will have to prepare well for C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week, MT safety Kevin Byard, if they hope to end MT’s undefeated home streak in 2014.
The 2016 NFL Draft prospect impressed many with his third interception of the season and a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Monarchs. Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullins will have to have his best game of the season in order defeat a Middle Tennessee defense that has had at least one interception in each game. Mullins threw two interceptions to match the pair of touchdowns he threw in the Golden Eagles’ loss to Rice.
While the Middle Tennessee defense is allowing an average of 30.6 points per game, Southern Miss is only scoring an average of 16.4. They will likely be able to score a little more against the vanilla MT defense, but it may not be enough to compete with MT’s high-powered 34th ranked scoring offense that averages 38.6 points per game. The Golden Eagles have allowed an average of 36.4 points per game, which means Grammer and company could find the end zone at least five or six times on Saturday night.
If Grammer can continue playing smart football and if running backs Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley can continue rushing for a combined average of 4.9 yards per carry, then the Blue Raiders should be able to leave Floyd Stadium with a big victory.
A win here solidifies Middle Tennessee’s spot on top of Conference USA before a road game against undefeated C-USA rival Marshall.
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