Blue Raider Gridiron Preview: Louisiana-Monroe
It’s homecoming week at MTSU, parade floats are being constructed, the leaves are changing colors and football season is well under way.
Middle Tennessee Football (3-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) will play its annual homecoming game Saturday afternoon against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (2-2, 0-0 Sun Belt).
The Blue Raiders are coming off a week they will not soon forget.
MT pulled one of the biggest upsets in school history beating Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-2 ACC) at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. The Blue Raiders were a 26.5-point underdogs going on the road, but did the seemingly impossible and beat the Ramblin’ Wreck, 49-28. Star running back Benny Cunningham had a career day in Atlanta with 217 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He will look to continue his success at home this week.
ULM defeated Tulane (0-4, 0-1 Conference USA) in a blowout 63-10 last week. The Warhawks have also pulled an upset over then eighth-ranked Arkansas, and kept it close with powerhouses Auburn and Baylor, losing those two games by a combined 8 points.
The Blue Raiders are looking to bounce back from last year’s 42-14 loss to Monroe. MT gave up three turnovers and fielding little defense against the Warhawks’ offensive attack, but this team is a year older.
This year’s MT squad fields a team that is 29th in rushing yards this season, an impressive stat for a team that runs a spread offense, which is most often associated with a vaunted pass game. The Blue Raiders also rank 30th in scoring and have accumulated 848 rushing yards this season, the bulk coming from Benny Cunningham and LSU transfer Drayton Calhoun.
While the running game is good, the passing game is just as deadly.
Quarterback Logan Kilgore has already thrown for 917 yards and his completion percentage is around 70. He’s also thrown eight touchdowns to only two interceptions. Anthony Amos is the team’s star receiver and has accounted for over a third of MT’s receiving yards and also has a team-leading four touchdowns this season, including a an impressive one-handed grab against Georgia Tech that landed him the No. 2 play on sportscenter last Saturday.
On defense, linebacker Roderic Blunt is the team’s leading tackler with 20 stops on the season. Leighton Gasque leads the team with three sacks. The Blue Raiders also have two players with an interception.
The Warhawks rank 17th in pass offense as well as points nationally this season. They are led by dual-threat quarterback Kolton Browning who accounts for 1,174 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions to go along with 189 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground. ULM’s leading rusher is junior running back Jyruss Edwards, who leads the Warhawks with 287 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The receiving corp is lead by Brent Leonard who has 30 receptions, 300 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the season.
Defensively, Monroe’s leading tackler is R.J. Young with 19. There are four players tied with one sack on the team and DaCorris Ford leads the team in interceptions with two.
Louisiana-Monroe is a 3.5 favorite with the over/under set at 67.0 points. This will be the 11th meeting between the two teams with MTSU leading the series 9-3. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Floyd Stadium. Students get in free with Student ID.
Homecoming Quick Facts:
On homecoming the Blue Raiders:
- Have a 50-20-2 record
- Did not play 1943-45 because of WWII
- Tied first ever homecoming game in 1937 with Tennessee Tech, 13-13
- Scored the most points in 2009 when they beat WKU, 62-24
- Have a 10-2 since joining the Sun Belt
- Won 38-31 vs. Memphis in most recent homecoming in 2011
- Have scored 1,836 points for an average of 25.5 points per game
- Have given up 1,025 points for an average of 14.2
- Only played one overtime game, which was in 1985 when they beat Murray State, 31-24
- Have played Murray State 17 times, more than any other opponent
- Have 13 wins versus Murray State in those 17 meetings, the most versus any opponent
- Posted their largest margin of victory in 1991 when they defeated Southeast Missouri State, 52-0
- Have posted 13 shut outs on homecoming
- Are 11-4 vs. current Sun Belt teams
- Have faced 22 different opponents
- Have a record 16-4 versus current Div. I FBS opponents