Jacksonville State vs. Middle Tennessee Week 6 college football prediction and preview

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Week 6 Wednesday games feature Conference USA matchup Jacksonville State vs. Middle Tennessee

We’re used to seeing MACtion on Wednesdays, but we’re going to need a special name for midweek Conference USA games. The conference started last week with Thursday games, but has now moved into playing on Wednesdays. Tuesday games come next week as well!

 

The first of two kickoffs on Wednesday features Jacksonville State vs. Middle Tennessee, as the Gamecocks head to Murfreesboro in search of their fifth win of the season. The other game between Florida International and New Mexico State is on CBS Sports Network, but this one draws ESPNU billing.

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Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (-4.5, 51.5)

The Gamecocks outlasted fellow FBS newcomer Sam Houston State in a 35-28 win on the road in Texas last week. This will be the first time that the Gamecocks have played back-to-back road games, but it is a reasonable three-hour bus ride up to the campus of Middle Tennessee. Both teams are on equal footing having played on Thursday of last week.

The Blue Raiders are having a rough go of it this season. They have played a tough schedule thus far, losing to Alabama and Missouri prior to beating Murray State. They’ve dropped the last two against Colorado State and Western Kentucky, who are both pretty decent Group of Five programs. Jacksonville State does represent a sizable step down in class. There is also a huge strength of schedule discrepancy here, as the Gamecocks have played the 163rd-ranked schedule and the Blue Raiders have played the 51st.

With that weak schedule, the Gamecocks have excelled on defense, holding opponents to just 4.32 yards per play. Middle Tennessee has allowed 5.76 YPP, though what is interesting is that the two Power Five teams had 5.79 YPP and the two Group of Five opponents had 5.75.

While Jacksonville State has taken advantage of the weak schedule on defense, that has not been the case on offense, where the Gamecocks have just 5.15 yards per play and have changed QBs from seven-year vet Zion Webb to sophomore Logan Smothers. MTSU only has 5.11 yards per play against the two G5 opponents after falling short of four yards per play against the Power Five foes.

With limited explosive plays both ways and something of a wake-up call possible for the Gamecocks, the Under 51.5 looks like a good wager in this game.

Pick: Under 51.5