Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Conference: Conference USA (C-USA)
2017 record: 7-6
Head Coach: Rick Stockstill (12th season, 79-72 overall)
In the third game of the 2018 season, Georgia will host the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State between the hedges. This will be the teams’ second ever meeting, with Georgia taking care of business in 2003 by a final score of 29-10. Fans will be happy to hear this will be the first night game of the season for the Dawgs, with kickoff occurring at 7:15 pm on ESPN2.
Entering his 12th season in charge, head coach Rick Stockstill is looking to build off a solid 2017 campaign in which the Blue Raiders went 4-4 in Conference USA and 7-6 overall. Their season was capped off by a 35-30 victory over Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl.
If not for an injuries to starting quarterback Brent Stockstill (yes, the coach’s son) and wide receiver Richie James, the 2017 could have been even better. The Blue Raiders went 5-2 with Stockstill as the starter but just 2-4 while he was sidelined. This will be Stockstill’s fourth season as the MTSU starting quarterback and is the school’s all-time leader in touchdown passes and completions.
Despite the departure of WR Richie James, who became the first MTSU receiver to be drafted in 15 years, the Blue Raiders will return several weapons on offense including the top three receivers aside from James and every running back. Two honorable mention offensive linemen return, and 14 players will be back in Murfreesboro from the two-deep on defense.
Overall, Middle Tennessee State will be one of the tougher mid-major teams in 2018 and will challenge FAU for C-USA supremacy. The Blue Raiders will also test themselves against three SEC opponents, with trips to Vanderbilt and Kentucky to go along with Georgia. While MTSU will be improved, S&P+ gives the Blue Raiders just a 6% chance of knocking off Georgia, and that number may even be generous.
Still, this game will be tougher for the Dawgs than many fans realize. This game is sandwiched in between trips to South Carolina and Missouri, so Kirby Smart will need to keep the team focused to avoid a letdown.
MTSU may be able to keep it close in the first quarter or even the first half, but ultimately, Georgia should pull away and comfortably take care of business against the Blue Raiders.
Georgia 45 MTSU 10
Until next time… Go Dawgs!!!