UTSA vs Middle Tennessee Odds, Picks and Predictions: Blue Raiders Start Strong

One thing Middle Tennessee does well is it gets off to strong starts. The Blue Raiders are among the leaders in first-quarter points and are facing a UTSA squad that is on the opposite end of the spectrum, coming out of the gates at a snail's pace.

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2022 3:59 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Chase Cunningham Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders College Football
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Middle Tennessee State and UTSA meet for one interesting matchup tonight.

As of now, the two programs are going in opposite directions. MTSU is coming off an upset that sent shockwaves across College Football when it defeated Miami as 26.5-point underdogs. UTSA does come into this off a win, but it would have expected to be better than 2-2 at this point, given its preseason ranking.

Can Middle Tennessee State keep the momentum going and avoid the letdown spot? Will UTSA get a solid win to get their first multiple-game winning streak going? Find out in our college football picks and predictions for Middle Tennessee State vs. UTSA.

UTSA vs Middle Tennessee best odds

UTSA vs Middle Tennessee picks and predictions

UTSA is the better team here by virtually all metrics. However, Middle Tennessee State has played better overall football to start the season. The Blue Raiders have been more explosive and consistent and have the most significant win between the two teams. That makes the difficulties of this handicap high and it's why I won't pick a traditional side here.

The Blue Raiders will start strong. The "letdown" impact could be much more substantial if they faced a different opponent. However, UTSA is a notable enough name to grab their attention, and they'll be in front of a home crowd that should be energized after a big road win. I'll be looking to the first quarter for my best bet.

A significant factor in Middle Tennessee's win against Miami was how quickly it started the game. It was 17-3 after one quarter, and the Hurricanes played catch-up throughout. Looking deeper, you'll see that this has been part of the Blue Raiders' DNA for a while. They score points early and often. This season, they have the third-highest first-quarter points total among Group-of-Five teams with an average of nine points. A season ago, they nearly matched this rate in home games with 8.8 PPG. So again, it's built into their culture.

Currently, you can find a first quarter total at 13.5 on FanDuel. That's an enticing number and one I'll likely dip into. However, I think there is a better bet to attack. Countering Middle Tennessee's first-quarter barrages, we find UTSA starting games slowly. It plagued the Roadrunners in one loss this season against Houston, and on the year, they are averaging just one point in the first quarter. Since it's hard to trust them to do anything early, I want to keep my best bet exclusive to Middle Tennessee State.

That's the raw data for this one, but in addition to that, we have the situational aspect that heavily favors the Blue Raiders starting fast. Betting the right "spots" is essential in all sports, but it may be most important in college football. This spot is definitely a good one. Again, Middle Tennessee is coming home after one of the biggest wins in school history, and the energy around the program should be high. I also believe that MTSU has one clear advantage that can be exploited early on. The UTSA offensive line has been a significant issue this season.

How bad have things been? So bad that Head Coach Jeff Traylor decided to move a few defensive linemen over to the offensive line. The Roadrunners have posted one of the worst stuff rates in college football and have surrendered around three sacks per game. Expect MTSU to attack that deficiency, especially early, while players adjust to their new positions. The Raiders are ranking second in the entire country in sacks per game. That's a big issue and I expect it to show up early.

My best bet: Middle Tennessee State first quarter +0.5 (-112 at FanDuel)

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UTSA vs Middle Tennessee spread analysis

I'm inclined to take the four free points here instead of the moneyline, but I may stay away entirely.

Middle Tennessee State has a significant edge at the line of scrimmage, but I believe UTSA can match that gap with its skill position players. I'm very bullish on the Blue Raiders starting strong, but it gets a little murky afterward. Given my first-quarter position, it's doubtful I'll have a pregame side here.

This looks like a great game to bet live by looking at a few simple things. First, how dominant is MTSU at the line of scrimmage? I've noted that I expect it to have its way with UTSA's offensive line early. Can UTSA adjust after that? Second, how much is UTSA using its team speed to limit the rush? I've noted that I believe the Roadrunners have better skill position players. Are they getting those players in space and letting them make plays? These are all things I'll be considering early before I decide if I want to dip in on a live market.

Let's take a look at a few trends before we wrap up our analysis of this matchup:

  • First, the Blue Raiders are 5-1 gainst the spread in their last six games.
  • Secondly, the Blue Raiders are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous one.

A lot is favoring MTSU here. According to Covers Consensus, the public has taken note of that, and that's why the Raiders are attracting over 65% of the bets. However, I'm not quite ready to jump in pregame. I want to see how things play out before I make a full-game wager, even if it costs me a few points.

UTSA vs Middle Tennessee Over/Under analysis

The logical move is to attack the Under on the UTSA team total. Currently, it sits at 33.5 on FanDuel and you're getting plus money to take the Under. That's about a touchdown too high.

I'm anticipating the Roadrunners to get behind the sticks early in the game. UTSA will find itself in plenty of obvious passing situations. When it's gotten in those spots this season, it's struggled.

The Roadrunners have posted a below-average success rate on passing downs, which was most notable against Texas. In the second half of that game, they posted a measly 15% success rate on passing downs, which was the primary reason Texas ran away with the game. That's an alarming number, and I'm expecting a similar story here. The trenches are a massive factor in this game, and that's one spot MTSU should control, especially early on.

UTSA has been a pretty strong Over team. These trends have been even more substantial after a loss. However, I think that factor has actually inflated this total. We're getting value with a team total of anything over 30. UTSA scored under this in both games where its opponent had more than four sacks. MTSU should be able to accomplish that feat and keep scoring below that number.

UTSA vs Middle Tennessee betting trend to know

Middle Tennessee State is 5-1 ATS in their last six games. Find more NCAA betting trends for UTSA vs. Middle Tennessee.

UTSA vs Middle Tennessee game info

Location: Johnny "Red" Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN
Date: Friday, September 30, 2022
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

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