After a disappointing 20-13 loss to Utah last week, it's time to take a look at Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders will travel to Provo to face the Cougars for the first time on Friday. So, now's a good time to get to know Middle Tennessee and how it matches up with BYU.

The Blue Raiders are 3-1 after a 42-35 overtime barn-burner against Florida Atlantic. Their only loss so far came at North Carolina, 40-20.

From running back Jordan Parker to head coach Rick Stockstill, here's what you need to know about Middle Tennessee State.

Lafe Peavler is a national college football featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @MasterPeavler


The man to watch is RB Jordan Parker. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound sophomore already has three 100-yard rushing games this season and averages 5.1 yards per carry. Junior RB Reggie Whatley also had a big game last week with 154 yards and three touchdowns against Florida Atlantic.

Those running backs will need to have a big day as senior quarterback Logan Kilgore has struggled this season. He threw three interceptions and no touchdowns against North Carolina, so BYU's secondary will need to capitalize on Kilgore's mistakes.


Middle Tennessee's defense, or lack thereof, was on full display last week vs. Florida Atlantic. The Blue Raiders and Owls literally took turns scoring touchdowns all game. Middle Tennessee simply scored last, which gave it the 42-35 overtime win.

The fact remains that the Blue Raiders gave up 35 points to a team that was averaging only 15.6 points per game coming into this game.

That doesn't mean that BYU can get careless with the ball. Middle Tennessee forced five turnovers, including one interception each from Anfornee Stewart and Kevin Byard.

Still, Middle Tennessee comes to Provo No. 94 in total defense, which is just what the doctor ordered for an offense that struggled to move the ball against Utah last week.

Special teams

Kicker Cody Clark is perfect so far with 16 PATs, but he hasn't been stellar so far kicking field goals. The freshman's career long is 41 yards, but he's only 2-for-4 on the season, including a miss from 33 yards.

However, senior punter Josh Davis is a top 20 punter, averaging 44.9 yards per punt. His career long is 78 yards, meaning that he can flip the field position in a hurry.


Head coach Rick Stockstill's tenure at Middle Tennessee State has been a roller coaster.

Stockstill brought the Blue Raiders to great heights in 2009 as they won 10 games, including the New Orleans Bowl over Southern Miss. That was the Blue Raiders' first bowl win since the 1959 Tangerine Bowl.

Then just two years later, Middle Tennessee went 2-10.

Stockstill has shown his loyalty to the Blue Raiders after turning down job offers to programs in better shape like East Carolina. While he hasn't consistently produced bowl eligible teams, he does win more games than he loses with a 46-45 record.


On paper, BYU has the advantage in every way. The Blue Raiders employ a run-first offense, which plays to the strength of the BYU defense. The defense won't be able to stifle Taysom Hill the same way that Virginia and Utah did. Furthermore, the Blue Raiders will struggle to keep up with BYU's up-tempo offense in the high altitude of LaVell Edwards Stadium.

However, this isn't a team to take lightly. Head coach Rick Stockstill has helped his team accomplish things at Middle Tennessee that many thought impossible, like win a bowl game in 2009. BYU should win big, but it can't afford to sleep-walk and expect an easy victory.