How many amongst us thought way back in late August that MTSU football would be sitting here in mid-November with three games to play and in control of its own destiny for an outright Sun Belt Conference championship?
The Blue Raiders had opened the season with a disturbing home loss to Football Championship Series member McNeese State. Swirling whispers had a feel of “here we go again” for a team coming off a moribund 2-10 campaign.
But by the time MTSU had answered that initial setback with three straight victories, including a convincing win at Georgia Tech, the sentiment had turned from a season of concern to one of possibilities. Even with the home loss to Sun Belt Conference rival Louisiana-Monroe notwithstanding,
the Blue Raiders now sit bowl eligible at 6-3 overall and, more importantly, 4-1 in the Sun Belt and tied with Arkansas State in the loss column atop the standings with three league games to play.
Two recent occurrences solidified MTSU in this situation. First came the big road win at rival Western Kentucky a week ago Thursday, followed by Arkansas State’s win last Thursday over Monroe. Both those results saddled WKU and ULM with two league losses at the time, while MTSU and Arkansas State still only have one each.
So here’s the deal: If MTSU wins Saturday at Sun Belt newcomer South Alabama, at home a week from Saturday against Troy, and then on the road Dec. 2 at Arkansas State, the Blue Raiders will capture their first outright Sun Belt title and start making reservations for the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 22.
Sure, that is easier said than done for MTSU. Then again, Arkansas State at 5-1 in league play still has some work to do, too, with a road game on Saturday at Troy, a team that should have beaten Tennessee a week ago Saturday.
But just the fact all that can be said these days about MTSU, especially considering how this team started the season, says just how well seventh-year coach Rick Stockstill jerked this program back on the right path following what now appears to be last season’s anomaly.
Greg Pogue is host of the Wendy’s First Quarter on 102.5-FM The Game ESPN Radio Nashville. E-mail
him at GregPogue@1025thegame.com.