The mid-major report returns for a sixth straight season here at Doc's Sports. The goal of this article is to show that specialization is a profitable betting strategy. For the mid-major betting report, we select one team to follow closely all year long. This year it will be the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. I'll be closely monitoring everything about this team. I will put together a weekly article with a selection on that game at the end of each article.
How have the selections on the mid-major betting report done? Overall, the record is 32 wins and 24 losses with a gain of $1,460. We are coming off a really strong season following the Temple Owls. The selections on the Temple games last year went 11-4, and we gained $1,050 over the course of the season.
As we go through the season, we'll be using the Doc's Sports Unit Betting System for every pick, which will allow readers to follow along and track the results.
To get things started, let's take a look at the MTSU Blue Raiders team. Last year, MTSU went 7-6 and lost to Western Michigan 45-31 in the Bahamas Bowl. They return 12 starters and 40 lettermen from a year ago. Let's now fast forward to this year's squad. We'll look at the strengths and weaknesses of the team. How does the schedule break down? There is quite a bit of optimism about the team going into the season. We will start by looking at the Blue Raiders on both sides of the ball.
Middle Tennessee State Offense
MTSU returns seven starters from last season on the offensive end. Brent Stockstill, son of head coach Rick Stockstill, was the Conference USA Freshman Player of the Year last season. He gives the team a very good signal caller to lead the way. Stockstill completed 66.7 percent of his passes and threw 30 touchdown passes compared to only nine interceptions. Richie James is arguably the best receiver in the conference. James caught 108 passes for 1,346 yards last year in his freshman season. The Blue Raiders have a good tight end in Terry Pettis as well.
The question mark is whether the running game can get going. MTSU didn't even have a running back reach 500 yards on the ground last year. The Blue Raiders averaged 214 yards on the ground two years ago but put up only 146 yards per game last year. Ole Miss transfer I'Tavius Mathers is likely to start in the backfield this year, and I would expect some improvement. The offensive line is led by right tackle Marquice Shakir. Overall, this line isn't really a strength or a weakness for the team. They allowed only17 sacks a year ago, but the team did only reach 3.8 yards per carry behind them as well.
The key factor I'm watching for this offense is new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. Franklin chose to leave Cal to come to MTSU. Franklin is known for being able to groom quarterbacks, and he has a very good one here to work with here in Stockstill. Look for the Blue Raiders to throw the ball a lot, and there are going to be more downfield throws this season.
Middle Tennessee State Defense
The Blue Raiders return only five starters on defense. MTSU lost their top four tacklers from last season. Last year's defense allowed 406 yards per game and 26.6 points per game. The strength of this year's defense will be the secondary. Jeremy Cutrer looks to be a team leader from his cornerback position. The overall level of depth in the secondary is much better at MTSU than most places in Conference USA.
Can the Blue Raiders stop the run this year? MTSU actually allowed only 152 rushing yards per game last season, which was their best mark since 2009, but they lost all three linebackers and their defensive tackle. Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix is very high on the new group of linebackers, but they are definitely inexperienced. This is an area I'll be watching very closely throughout the course of the season.
One thing that does help the Blue Raiders is most teams in Conference USA prefer to throw it around a lot, and that plays into the strength of this defense.
2016 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders Football Schedule
The 2016 schedule isn't a particularly difficult one for MTSU. The Blue Raiders do travel to Vanderbilt in Week 2 in what should be an interesting game. Vanderbilt and MTSU are just a few minutes apart, so you can bet there will be plenty of intensity from both sides in that game. MTSU gets a week off on Oct. 8 before hosting Western Kentucky and then traveling to Missouri on Oct. 22 in a bit of an odd scheduling spot. The game to circle on the schedule is Nov. 12 at Marshall.
2016 Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders Betting Odds
At 5Dimes , MTSU is listed at +999,999 to win the national title. Obviously that isn't going to happen. What about the more reasonable goals for the Blue Raiders? MTSU is listed at +600 to win the Conference USA Championship. There are listed at +335 to win the Conference USA East Division. Marshall is the favorite at +180. The Blue Raiders season win total is set at 7.5 at all the major sportsbooks.
Stay tuned throughout the season as the mid-major betting report comes to you every single week.
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