Middle Tennessee (3-1) at Troy (2-2) 10-6-09

October 6, 2009

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Middle Tennessee (3-1) at Troy (2-2)

DATE & TIME: Tuesday, October 6th, 8:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium (30,000) — Troy, Alabama. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: MT 1-0, Troy 1-0. Away Record: MT 2-1, Troy 1-2. Neutral Record: MT 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: MT 1-0, Troy 1-0. Series Record: Middle Tennessee leads, 11-5.

GAME NOTES: The Battle for The Palladium will take place Tuesday evening when the Troy Trojans host the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in a Sun Belt Conference battle at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium.

Off to their best start since opening the 2001 season with five consecutive wins, the Blue Raiders will try to grab their fourth victory of the year Tuesday evening. Middle Tennessee opened the campaign with a 37-14 setback to Clemson, but has reeled off three victories since, including a 37-21 decision over North Texas on September 26th.

As for the Trojans, they began the year with two straight losses, but the team has rebounded with back-to-back decisions over UAB (27-14) and Arkansas State (30-27). Troy has dominated league play over the past three years, winning three consecutive Sun Belt titles, although last season’s was the first outright championship.

The Blue Raiders currently lead the all-time series by an 11-5 margin. However, the Trojans have won the last three matchups, including a 31-17 decision last year.

The Blue Raiders scored 30 first half points and never looked back, as they defeated North Texas by a 16-point margin. Dwight Dasher did most of the work for MT, as the quarterback threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-43 passing. The signal caller also led the ground game with 75 yards and two more scores, while D.D. Kyles added 62 yards on 18 totes. Dasher has been Mr. Everything for the Blue Raiders this year, as the quarterback has thrown for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns against five interceptions. On top of his passing abilities, Dasher has also been the main source of production for the rushing attack, coming into this matchup with a team-high 251 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Kyles is the top tailback, but he has just 132 yards on a mere 3.7 yards per tote. As a whole the Blue Raiders are averaging an impressive 407.2 total ypg, and that has translated into a solid 28.5 ppg.

Middle Tennessee’s defensive unit struggled last time out, surrendering 21 points on a whopping 470 total yards. MT surrendered 313 passing yards in the win, but the defense collected three interceptions and five overall turnovers. The unit did not grab a sack in the matchup, but Middle Tennessee limited North Texas to just 4-of-13 on third downs and just 2-of-4 in the red zone. This defense has lived off the big play early in the year, racking up 13 takeaways (six interceptions and seven fumbles) in the first four games. What has plagued this team thus far, has been its inability to stop the run, as opponents are churning out 152.5 ypg on the ground. Out of the 11 touchdowns surrendered, seven have come via the run. Overall, this defense is being punished for 374.0 total yards and that has led to 25.8 ppg by the opposition.

A 17-point second quarter was the main reason the Trojans walked away with a three-point victory over Arkansas State in their last matchup. Levi Brown was outstanding in the win, as the signal caller threw for 355 yards and two scores on 33-of-46 passing. Tebiarus Gill was very busy, as the wideout hauled in 10 passes for 85 yards and one touchdown. The ground game was not very formidable, but the team still finished with 134 yards on 37 carries. DuJuan Harris did most of the damage, rushing for 48 yards and one score. On the year Harris has a team-best 161 yards and three scores, but the rushing game as a whole has labored for 96.5 ypg on just 3.1 yards per attempt. Fortunately the team can rely on the arm of Brown, who has thrown for 1,097 yards on 63.7 percent efficiency. However, the quarterback has only thrown five touchdowns against four interceptions and that ratio will definitely need to improve as the season progresses. Overall Troy comes into this weekend averaging 375.2 total yards per matchup, but that has led to just 19.2 ppg.

The Trojans were not at their best defensively against Arkansas State, but the team did enough to earn the victory. Troy allowed 235 yards through the air, but the defense bottled up the Red Wolves on the ground, holding them to just 70 yards on 2.8 yards per attempt. Troy allowed ASU to score on all four of its red zone chances, but the defense was able to feed off three turnovers, and also limited the Red Wolves to just 2-of-9 on third down attempts. Four games into the season and it is evident that Troy has endured some problems defending the pass, as opponents are torching the Trojans for 263.8 ypg. Out of the 15 touchdowns allowed, nine have come via the pass. Overall the Trojans head into this matchup allowing 410.5 total ypg, and that has led to an equally poor 32.0 ppg.

The Trojans have been unable to stop the pass on the year, and that could be a problem with Dasher and company coming for the Palladium. While the Blue Raiders should make this an interesting matchup, look for the Trojans to hold on for a close win at home.

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