Friday night Conference-USA action kicks off at 7:30 p.m. when the UTSA Roadrunners (2-2, 0-0) visit the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (3-1, 0-0). MTSU is coming off a huge upset win as 24-point underdogs against Miami last week while UTSA took care of business against FCS Texas Southern. In this article, we’ll look at UTSA at MTSU odds and a betting preview to see if there’s any value in the lines.
UTSA At MTSU Odds
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UTSA At MTSU Odds Movement
Odds remained fairly steady since opening in this matchup. Currently, UTSA is a road favorite and the over/under is set at . You can find half-point variations on these numbers from book-to-book, but because the spread is comfortably away from a key figure, there’s not much sense in hoping it climbs three points or falls a point.
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Great Kid! Don’t Get Cocky
Like Luke Skywalker getting his first TIE Fighter kill in Star Wars, MTSU notched a huge upset victory over Miami. But in the spirit of Han Solo, the Blue Raiders can’t let that win dictate the rest of their season.
Defensively, MTSU has been terrific– top-10 marks in rushing EPA on defense and top-25 in rushing success rate allowed. They lead the nation in sack rate (11.6%!) and seventh in tackles for loss. With James Madison and Miami on that record, these are numbers that translate to future play and are worth admiring.
But MTSU embodies a half-team in college football. As good as they are defensively, that’s how bad they are offensively.
When you can’t run the ball, you don’t generate much offense. MTSU is rushing for just 2.1 yards per carry through four games (sixth worst in FBS)– a major flaw that carried over from last season. They’re bottom-12 in rushing success rate (32.1%) and EPA per rush (-0.24). It was a death knell against teams better at defending the pass like James Madison (which they lost 44-7).
Luckily for the Blue Raiders, UTSA has struggled to defend the pass so far in 2022. The Roadrunners are 128th in EPA per dropback allowed and 102nd in success rate, leading to opposing teams averaging 3.35 points per drive (111th). Fifth-year MTSU QB Chase Cunningham is completing nearly 71% of his passes and nearly matched his passing total from all of last year in just four games.
Just Air It Out
UTSA likes to throw the ball, passing with the 24th-highest frequency in the nation. Combined with their high rate of play, the Roadrunners throw the eighth-most passes per game nationally. MTSU runs a more balanced offense, but against such a weak UTSA secondary, expect them to lean on Cunningham a bit more.
Frank Harris has been one of the best QBs in the country for the past two seasons. His efficiency marks rank up there with Grayson McCall, Michael Penix Jr., and J. J. McCarthy on the season. He’s passed for over 1,300 yards and 10 TDs on the season while only throwing two picks. De’Corian Clark and Joshua Cephus have been one of the more productive receiving duos thus far, with each hauling in over 400 receiving yards in four games.
More downfield passing against softer passing defenses is going to lead to points. That’s brought the point total for this game to an exciting , with a nice look at the over should these two teams air it out in favorable weather conditions.
UTSA At MTSU Forecast
According to my aggregate power rankings, UTSA is favored by three points on a neutral field. In this game, they’re favored by four on the road. MTSU’s defense is simply too good to ignore, but this feels like a prime letdown spot coming down off that Miami win. Both teams should lean into the pass more and the less turnover-prone team is going to win this game.
Neither QB has turned the ball over a great deal this season, but it’s hard to bet against the better QB in Harris here. MTSU’s strength is defending the run, but the Roadrunners won’t need to lean into the ground game all that often with their prolific passing attack.
The same can’t be said for MTSU, who runs a balanced attack and has real offensive concerns. Four points doesn’t excite me enough one way or another to place a bet on this game, but leaning on UTSA and the points is likely the more fruitful bet on Friday.
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