After a disappointing 2011, the MTSU football team is poised to become bowl eligible with one more win.
It the meantime, team is focused on beating the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers as the Blue Raiders have only four days to prepare after Saturday’s win.
“It’s a quick turnaround but this is what you live for as a college football player,” Blue Raider junior quarterback Logan Kilgore said. “They’re a really good team and I’m excited to get up there and play.”
Last Saturday, the Blue Raiders dominated North Texas, 38-21, and improved to 5-3 (3-1) on the season.
In the win, Kilgore had an impressive day through the air, and on the ground. He finished 20-for-30 for 349 yards and three touchdowns, and also had a 45-yard touchdown run. For his oustanding performance, he was picked as the SBC Offensive Player of the Week.
Two Blue Raider wide receivers, senior Anthony Amos and junior Kyle Griswould, each had more than 100 yards receiving with Griswould catching three passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns, while Amos added eight catches for 121 yards and a TD.
“They play a lot of a quarter two, their linebackers are very active and we had a tough time running the ball at times,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said about the North Texas defense. “So we changed some things up and had success through the air and that opened our running game back up again. Our kids did a great job of adjusting.”
In the Oct. 27 win over the Mean Green, it was also a special day for the program in two different ways.
At halftime, the team honored veterans and current military personel with nearly 1,000 in the stands for the 31st annual Salute to Armed Services/Veterans Day.
Also, the Blue Raiders made history for the first time since Jimmy Carter was in the Oval Office back in 1978 when MTSU wore a different colored helmet other than sliver. As part of the team’s “Blackout,” the team wore black jerseys and also debut black helmets for the first time in school history.
“It was very exciting,” Junior linebacker Craig Allen said about the helmets. “We have been begging coach for us to wear them. That is what happens when we work hard, good things happen to us. It gave us the privilege to wear them, and we stepped it up.”
Now the attention turns to MTSU’s hated rival, Western Kentucky.
Tonight the teams meet for the 63rd time; their first meeting was all the way back in 1914. From 1921 to 1991, the team faced each other almost every season.
After the 1991 season, the rivalry was stopped until the Hilltoppers joined the SBC as a football member in 2007. Then, the rivalry was restarted, and the programs have met each year since then as conference foes.
Last year’s game between MTSU and Western went into double overtime with the Hilltoppers winning 36-33 at Floyd Stadium. Now, the Blue Raiders are looking for its fourth win in a row inside L.T. Smith Stadium, which the Hilltoppers call home.
“It’s a big game for us, since we lost to them in double overtime last year, and we will be looking for some revenge,” Amos said.
Also, the Blue Raiders will be looking for their sixth win of the season, which would make them bowl eligible for the first time since the 2010 season’s 35-21 loss to Miami (Ohio) in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Not only a payback win over its longtime rival tonight would get MTSU to the important six-win mark, hopefully it will finally put to rest last season’s disappointing 2-10 record.
Since that same season, the program is back to where it was when the Blue Raiders played in three bowls in five seasons under Stockstill.
Kickoff for tonight’s game is 8:15 p.m. in Bowling Green and it will be shown on ESPNU.