Scary Offenses

Most people will be spending Saturday trick-or-treating on Halloween; some of them will be wearing costumes that might be considered scary. On the football field, however, Middle Tennessee (4-3, 2-1) and Florida Atlantic (2-4, 2-1) will hope to showcase offenses that have already scared some opponents this season.
Both of the passing offenses are ranked in the top 20 in the nation. FAU is 15th averaging 289.17 yards per game, while the Blue Raiders counter with 281 yards per game, which puts them at 17th.
“I think we are going to have to score a lot of points offensively because they are going to score a lot of points offensively,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said. “You hope your defense can continue to play well and hold them down, but looking at their offense and the way they have played lately you are going to have to score points. You do not want a shootout, but you never know.”
The quarterback match up between Dwight Dasher and Rusty Smith will be one to watch, with both of them ranked in top 25 in total offense.
Smith was named SBC Player of the Year in 2007 and bowl MVP the past two seasons.
Each team scored over 50 points in their respective victories last week. FAU won 51-29 over Louisiana-Lafayette, while MTSU knocked off Western Kentucky, 62-24.
“We are excited about this game,” Stockstill said. “It is another opportunity to play another good football team. Florida Atlantic has won a couple in a row and they are a really good offensive football team and they are scoring a lot of points right now. We are going to have to play well to win this game.”
In the six meetings between the two teams, the Blue Raiders have averaged 339 yards of total offense.
MTSU’s defense will face another tough running back, Alfred Morris; he comes into the contest ranked eighth in the nation in rushing by averaging 117.5 yards per game. The Blue Raiders, however, during the series with the Owls, have only given up 100 yards once. That came last year, when Dilvory Edgecomb had 103, including a 53-yard touchdown run.
“I think every team we have this year has had an outstanding running back,” MTSU defensive lineman Brandon Perry said. “We just have to get our mind right to stop the run first and make them throw the football. It will be a challenge on Saturday.”
In the short history of the Sun Belt Conference, Florida Atlantic has become one of the most successful teams. Last season, it became the first team in SBC history to win back-to-back bowl games when they won the Motor City Bowl. The year before they took home the New Orleans Bowl victory.
The Owls had their first ever football game in school history in 2001, and they became bowl eligible in 2006. One coach has led the way from the very beginning, Howard Schnellenberger. He won a national championship in 1983 when he was at the helm at Miami (Fla.)
In 2003, the team made its first appearance in Murfreesboro and scored a touchdown with no time left to win 20-19. The all-time series is tied at three, but last season the Blue Raiders got a measure of revenge with a last second touchdown pass from Joe Craddock to Malcolm Beyah in front of a national television audience on ESPN2 to win 14-13.
The Oct. 31 game will kick off at 3 p.m. from Boca Raton, Fla.


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