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November 26, 2009Middle Tennessee closes out the regular season on Saturday at ULM and the Blue Raiders have a chance to enhance this season's already impressive legacy.
Team and individual records could fall and a ninth win would put the Raiders in rare air in Sun Belt history.
GoMiddle.com breaks down six game related items for Saturday's game against ULM in this week's Six Pack.
WHAT WOULD 9 WINS MEAN?: A win over ULM would put the Blue Raiders at 9-3 with a bowl game remaining to try to get to 10 wins. Aside from the fact that a ninth win would set a school record in the 1-A/FBS era, it would also put MT in rare air in Sun Belt history. The 2003 North Texas team is the only team in conference history to win nine games in a season. That team went 7-0 in conference games and won non-conference games against Baylor and Troy (Troy joined the league in 2004). MT is already in select company in Sun Belt history by having eight wins. Since the Blue Raiders went 8-3 in 2001, only seven times has a conference team won eight games. North Texas won eight in 2002 and the aforementioned nine in 2003. Troy has now won eight games in four straight years and can join MT as being the first Sun Belt to reach nine wins if the Trojans beat Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend. Florida Atlantic won eight games in 2007. No Sun Belt team reached eight wins in 2004 and 2005.
INDIVIDUAL MARKS IN SIGHT: It's been a memorable season for Blue Raider football and there are plenty of additional memories that could be made this weekend as several Blue Raiders have a chance to set personal records. Quarterback Dwight Dasher needs 239 passing yards and three touchdown passes to set new single season records in both. Kicker Alan Gendreau needs just one field goal to set a new single season mark for most field goals in a season. He already owns the record for most points in a season. A monster game from defensive end Chris McCoy could set a new record for most tackles for loss in a season. McCoy is currently 4.5 TFL off the mark. As a team, MT needs 11 tackles for loss and two sacks to match the all time single season records.
QUICK STRIKE RAIDERS: MT enters this week's game ranked second nationally behind Houston in scoring touchdowns and field goals within two minutes. Houston owns 33 scores (27 TDs, 6 FGs) while MT has 31 (21 TDs, 10 FGs) within two minutes. Tulsa is third with 27 followed by Troy with 26 and Arkansas with 25. The Blue Raiders are tied for seventh nationally in touchdown scoring drives of two minutes or less with 21. (MT Media Relations)
BALANCE IN THE PASSING GAME: MT's passing attack this season has been significantly more balanced than it was in 2008, making the Raiders much more difficult to defend and particularly so when Dasher's running threat is added to his passing ability. Last season, MT's top two receivers were Eldred King and Patrick Honeycutt, who each caught 51 passes. The two combined for 40 percent of all of MT's pass receptions. This year, the ball has been spread out much more. The top two receivers this year are Honeycutt and Chris McClover, who have combined to catch 63 passes so far (30 percent of MT's total receptions. But right behind Honeycutt and McClover is another 30 catch man. Garrett Andrews has 30 receptions to rank third behind Honeycutt (32) and McClover (31). Five receivers have caught multiple touchdown passes so far this season, a number that still has a chance to increase. Only four receivers caught multiple touchdown passes all of last year.
MT COLLIDES WITH TOP RUN DEFENSE: MT's revived running game passed a difficult test last week by torching the Arkansas State run defense, which ranks second in the league in run defense. This week, the Raiders get their shot at the best run defense in the Sun Belt. ULM surrenders an average of 102.8 rushing yards per game. Only two Sun Belt opponents have topped 100 yards on the ground against the Warhawks. FAU rushed for 142 yards on the strength of a 122 yard game from star running back Alfred Morris. Western Kentucky rushed for 195 yards, 134 of which belonged to Bobby Rainey. The third highest rushing total against ULM by a Sun Belt opponent this season is 79 yards (North Texas). MT has averaged 260 rushing yards over its last five games, all victories.
SECONDARY LICKING ITS CHOPS: MT has racked up 14 interceptions this season, a mark that ranks just one behind Louisiana-Lafayette's 15 picks in the Sun Belt. There is a good statistical chance that MT defensive backs will have a chance to raise that number this weekend. ULM has thrown more interceptions than any other Sun Belt team (17). FAU is the only conference opponent that ULM has not thrown an interception against. The Warhawks have thrown at least two interceptions in four Sun Belt games.
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