Coach Rick Stockstill and former quarterback Dwight Dasher speak with the media after the 2009 New Orleans Bowl, which was MTSU’s last game against a Conference USA member, Southern Miss Golden Eagles. (TMP File Photos)
With the recent announcement of MTSU Athletics moving to Conference USA in July, the Blue Raiders' football opponents have been finalized for 2013.
On Jan. 23, the C-USA officials selected the conference foes for the upcoming season. MTSU will have a mix of old rivals from previous leagues with a few conference newcomers that the Blue Raiders have never faced before in school history.
Here is the breakdown.
MTSU will be in the C-USA Eastern Division along with East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Southern Mississippi and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While the West will be made up of Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, Texas El-Paso and Texas-San Antonio.
As for the 2013 conference football opponents, four will be at home, including East Carolina, old Sun Belt foe FIU, Marshall and Texas El-Paso. These will go along with non-conference games against Western Carolina and Memphis, which is leaving C-USA at the end of this academic year to play in the Big East. It will also be the first ever meeting between MTSU and East Carolina.
The away conference opponents include Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Southern Mississippi, and UAB to go along with non-conference foes, Brigham Young University and North Carolina.
“What a tremendous home schedule this will be for our fans,” MTSU Athletic Director Chris Massaro said. “This is a schedule I know our fans will be eager to support.”
For the Blue Raiders, who were members of the Sun Belt from 2001-2012, 2013 offers a fresh start for several reasons. Mostly, it will give them a chance to face fresh opponents.
MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said he believes the team has put last season behind it and is ready for a new challenge in a different conference.
“The 2012 season was a great year, and I am proud of all of the players for the way they competed every single day,” Stockstill said. “The way the season ended with us not going to a bowl game will eat at me for a long time. Those seniors earned another game. But, this entire program and university is excited about what lies ahead in C-USA.”
Tulsa won the C-USA football title, and it was one of four conference teams to win bowl games last season.
The Golden Hurricanes won the Liberty, and Rice took the Armed Forces Bowl. Also, Southern Mississippi and Central Florida won bowl games, but both will be playing in a different conference next season.
The only C-USA bowl loss was Eastern Carolina to Sun Belt member Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl.
Also, this season, the Blue Raiders will be playing conference games on different national cable networks, including the CBS Sports Network and Fox Sports Networks. The C-USA title game will be on one of the ESPN family of networks.
The actual dates and times of the games will be released at a later date.