Raiders ready for the Sandman


MTSU football players wore special helmets as apart of the Salute to Veterans and Armed Forces. (Stephen Thomas / MTSU Sidelines)

Story by Matthew Giffin / Contributing Writer

A crowded, roaring stadium. An upset against a top-10 team. A swift ascent to the top of the Coastal division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  

Virginia Tech (1-0) stole the show last week in Blacksburg as college football teams across the country made their season debuts. Can Middle Tennessee State University (1-0), coming off a blowout 50-15 win against Monmouth, rise to the challenge and win on the road? 

Previously unranked, the AP now has the Hokies as the No. 19 team in the nation, only after defeating North Carolina, who was No. 10. 

Hokies quarterback Braxton Burmeister ran and threw the ball effectively against UNC, scoring both of Tech’s touchdowns last Friday. After that, the Hokies’ defense took over the game, getting six sacks and three interceptions. Virginia Tech proved that they had been underestimated. 

Not only that, but no one accounted for the total pandemonium that erupted from the massive Lane Stadium crowd of more than 66,000. That’s more than twice the capacity of MTSU’s Floyd Stadium.  

A clip on Twitter of the Hokies running out before kickoff to the electrifying tune of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” went viral, showcasing the almost tangible level of noise that the Blue Raiders can expect on Saturday: 

But the team says they’re ready for it. At Monday’s press conference, MTSU Head Coach Rick Stockstill said, “(Virginia Tech fans) were extremely loud last week against North Carolina, and we expect the same thing this week… So we’ve gotta do a good job communicating. We’ll have a plan, both offensively and defensively, from a signal standpoint.” He also emphasized that a high level of focus will be required to block out the crowd. 

In addition, the MTSU players have apparently been listening to “Enter Sandman” frequently throughout the week to prepare for gameday, according to wide receiver C.J. Windham in a Twitter video

Though they didn’t have the opportunity to knock off a ranked team like the Hokies did, MTSU exceeded expectations against Monmouth. If Bailey Hockman produces like he did last week, the running game gets off the ground, the defense keeps holding strong, and, of course, the Raiders successfully navigate the noise, a victory isn’t off the table. 

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