Schedule Forecast: State of Middle Tennessee

Miami returns home to host Middle Tennessee State after an emotional away game against Texas A&M. A game time has yet to be announced, but chances are it will be another hot afternoon game at Hard Rock Stadium. The Blue Raiders ended their season with a 31-24 win over Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl.

The two teams only met twice in consecutive years during the 1930s, with Miami failing to score in either competition.

First Thoughts: Miami can’t overlook this game

Last year’s record: 7-6

Final result of the last game against Miami: Miami lost 25-0

This game feels like a disappointment but Canes fans are hoping that the new coaching staff will get this team mentally ready once they come out of the smoke. MTSU led the nation with 32 takeaways in 2021 and led Conference-USA with 97 tackles for loss. Focus and discipline will be key to the Hurricanes’ victory.

The Raiders averaged about 30 points per game despite using several different quarterbacks throughout the season.

Names you should know about the opposition

Last year was a tumultuous year as quarterback for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee lost its starter via the transfer portal but landed NC State’s Bailey Hockman. Hockman started the first three games but left the team.

Senior Chase Cunningham was then used as a starter but dropped out for the year after five games with a knee injury. Cunningham passed for 1,318 yards and threw 16 touchdowns on just three interceptions before being eliminated for the season.

There’s also South Florida native Nick Vattiato. The former University School/Tru Prep Academy and South Florida Express quarterback has started in the last five games for MTSU. Vattiato led the Raiders to the bowl win and was named bowl MVP when he passed 270 yards. The freshman finished the season with 1,047 yards passing, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing seven points for six interceptions (thrown five interceptions on debut).

Nick Vattiato, Quarterback, Middle Tennessee State
Nick Vattiato, Quarterback, Middle Tennessee State (Rivals.com)

Cunningham will likely be the starter but he’s being pushed by Vattiato in camp.

MTSU will have a Florida duo running back for 2022. Frank Peasant and A’Various Sparrow (transferred from West Virginia) will take over the backfield for the Blue Raiders.

Jaylin Lane had a freshman breakout season at wide receiver last season with 42 catches for 466 yards and four touchdowns. Lane also added 93 yards and points on the ground. The super sophomore is also electrifying in the punt return game, returning one for a touchdown and averaging 20 per kickoff return.

Jordan Ferguson is an NFL-caliber defensive end and will draw a lot of attention from the Miami offensive line. The Raiders return their entire four fronts to defense.

Final Thoughts

MTSU is vulnerable on pass defense, so this could be a game where Tyler Van Dyke finds receivers serving on deep balls. If Miami’s offensive line can keep up, this shouldn’t be a scary game for the home team. I think this game is closer than the pundits think. I expect this game to have a range of 17 to 20 points, but I think the range is closer to 13 or 14.

I can see Miami taking the lead, playing conservative and allowing Middle Tennessee to get back in late. Miami wins, but not as comfortably.

Prediction: Miami wins 31-17

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