While Middle Tennessee State and Memphis are no longer in the same conference, the two teams will face off again to keep the in-state competition strong. The Blue Raiders have dominated the Tigers of late, winning four of five matchups since renewing their series in 2007. Expect that trend to continue in 2013.
MTSU is coming off a 40-20 loss at North Carolina, but returning to the comfort of Floyd Stadium should help add to the win column. The Blue Raiders have won five straight against the Tigers at home. Their last loss in this series at Murfreesboro was back in 1939 (granted the series went on hiatus in the 1950s).
Memphis has only played one game this season, which resulted in a 28-14 loss to Duke. After winning four games in 2012, the Tigers were projected to finish last in the newly formed AAC. Freshman quarterback Paxton Lynch doesn’t have a bar set too high for his first season under center.
Lynch completed 14-of-24 passes for 138 yards against Duke. Memphis rushed for 89 yards on 33 carries. While Duke isn’t the pushover it used to be, these numbers are certainly disconcerting.
MTSU will rely on sophomore running back Jordan Parker to lead the way. Parker has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in five of his last six games, including both showings in 2013. He saw 22 carries in the past two outings, and he’s averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Get him the ball.
Senior quarterback Logan Kilgore looked awful against the Tar Heels, throwing three picks and making several bad decisions. Memphis’ secondary can help him regain his confidence, and senior wideout Tavarres Jefferson is coming off his first 100-yard performance, so look for him to be a primary target in the passing game.
Pass protection is one area MTSU needs to focus on. The Blue Raiders only gave up seven sacks in all of 2012. They’ve already tied that mark in 2013. Memphis defensive lineman Martin Ifedi tallied two sacks last weekend and linebacker Anthony Brown picked up another against Duke. The Tigers can get pressure on Kilgore.
If the Tigers want to make this a game, they have to step up on third down. They converted one of 11 third downs against the Blue Devils. Another mark like that against another Blue opponent won’t bode well.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and the game will be shown live on CSS.