Blue Raiders, Memphis continue rivalry tonight

The Blue Raiders took down WKU Hilltoppers on Saturday night. The game ended 50-47 in 3OT. Photo by R.J. Estrella MTSU Sidelines Staff Photographer

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (2-1) travel to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to take on in-state rival Memphis tonight.

MT and the Tigers last met in 2013 in a contest at Floyd Stadium, with the Blue Raiders winning a nail-biter on a 41-yard field goal by Cody Clark with 1:42 left in the game.

Middle Tennessee has played Memphis every year since 2009, and have won all but one of the contests. Despite their previous success, the Blue Raiders will enter the matchup as the underdogs.

Memphis (1-2) has proven to impress in their 2014 campaign, after shutting out Austin Peay 63-0 and nearly upsetting No. 11 UCLA on the road.

“This will be another four quarter game, it will be a battle, it will be a dog fight that will come down to the wire and that’s the way these last couple games have gone against these guys anyway. We are preparing and expecting a difficult challenge,” said MT head coach Rick Stockstill.

Another shootout may be likely for the Blue Raiders following a 50-47 victory over WKU last Saturday. MT has allowed an average of 41 points and 535 yards per game over the past two contests. Offensively, Memphis enters the contest with an average of 507 yards per game, setting up another potential high-scoring affair.

After throwing three interceptions in a 35-24 loss against Minnesota in week 2, MT redshirt sophomore quarterback Austin Grammer is looking to continue his success after throwing for 218 yards and posting a career-high 125 rushing yards with four total touchdowns in a win over Western Kentucky.

Grammer will be going up against a Memphis defense led by senior linebacker Tank Jakes, who leads the team with 20 tackles and two sacks. Memphis held a weaker Austin Peay team to 146 total yards in their first contest of the season, before allowing 540 total yards to the more potent UCLA Bruins.

Offensively for Memphis, 6-7, 230 pound quarterback Paxton Lynch has been impressive, completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 547 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception. The sophomore signal caller led an upset effort that fell short against No. 11 UCLA, compiling 305 passing yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a 42-35 loss against the Bruins.

The Tigers will look to establish their No. 32-ranked rushing attack once more after putting up 164 rushing yards against UCLA.

The Blue Raider defense has proven to struggle in that area, giving up 409 combined rushing yards in the past two contests against Minnesota and Western Kentucky.

Game time between the Blue Raiders and the Memphis Tigers is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT tonight in Memphis, and the game will air on ESPN3.

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To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email

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