The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee University take football seriously. It is just a sport, of course, but to the student-athletes of this small southern school, men’s football is meaningful. This squad is committed and determined to win as many games as its collective skill level makes possible.
That “collective skill level” certainly produced very positive results in 2014. The Blue Raiders, under the skillful leadership of tenth year Head Coach Rick Stockstill, produced a Won-Loss record of 8-5. The team, “on a roll” throughout the long season beat Conference foes six out of eight times. This squad plays in the East Division of Conference USA and winning six out of eight games (which is what the Blue Raiders did) is not easily accomplished.
But in college football inspired play almost always produces positive results. Middle Tennessee University was offered, and quickly accepted, an invitation to the Armed Forces Bowl. Interestingly, the Blue Raiders found themselves lining up across from the US Naval Academy’s Midshipmen.
Academy teams always play hard and the performance in that game by the Naval Academy proved it. The Midshipmen conquered Middle Tennessee by a final score of 24-6.
The loss was disappointing, but the invitation to the bowl energized the team, the coach and the fans. A winning atmosphere now exists at Middle Tennessee University and with it, an expectation for an invitation to a bowl game in 2015 and the years that follow.
The Blue Raiders got the new season off to a “flying start” when they completely overwhelmed Jackson State University by a lopsided score of 70-14. Conversely, when the Blue Raiders visited the University of Alabama in Week Two, on Saturday, September 12th, it was they who got overwhelmed. The second-ranked Crimson Tide toyed with the visitors before beating them by a score of 37-10.
There are five more home games on the schedule for the Blue Raiders. The team will host the University of Charlotte on September 19th, Vanderbilt University on October 3rd, Florida International University (FIU) on October 17th, Marshall’s Thundering Herd on November 7th and North Texas University on November 21st.
The Blue Raiders will “hit the road” frequently in 2015. This squad will visit the University of Illinois on September 26th, the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky on October 3rd, Louisiana Tech University on October 24th, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) on November 14th and the University of Texas-San Antonio on November 28th.
It seems clear that the Blue Raiders have been confronted with a schedule that features many competitive games, contests that the University of Middle Tennessee can win or lose.
It will all depend on which team actually shows up to play the games. If it is the motivated squad, then good times are likely to be in this squad’s future. If the team does not believe in itself and its ability to overcome on-field adversity, fans and players alike will be uttering the words once spoken by the fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers.
It was: “wait til’ next year.”