Blue Raiders travel to UNC to face powerful Tar Heels
Game will be shown locally on WKRN 2September 6, 2013 · @MTAthletics
MURFREESBORO - When Middle Tennessee travels to the beautiful campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to play the Tar Heels on Saturday, it will face a team they have never played before in football. But at the helm of the UNC team will be a familiar face.
Carolina will be the fifth ACC team that the Blue Raiders have played in the Rick Stockstill era as head coach. Middle Tennessee has two wins against Maryland, and also beat Georgia Tech last fall in Atlanta. Losses have come at Clemson, and to Virginia at home on a UVA field goal on the last play of the game.
The game will be televised locally on WKRN-Channel 2 in Nashvillle, as well as on the ACC Network. The game will be in more than 68 million homes.
Kickoff is set for 11:29 AM Saturday, and will also be broadcast live over the Blue Raider Network, with veteran Chip Walters handling the play-by-play, and former Blue Raider and NFL quarterback Kelly Holcomb offering his insight as color commentator. Local BRN stations for this game include 102.5 FM, 100.5 FM and 89.5 FM.
While North Carolina and the Blue Raiders have never faced each other on a football field, Middle Tennessee fans are well-acquainted with the Tar Heel head coach, Larry Fedora.
Fedora served as MT's offensive coordinator from 1999 to 2001 and helped engineer the 2001 upset against Vanderbilt, 37-28, in Nashville that kick started an 8-3 campaign.
Fedora's fast-paced offense raced up and down the field to the tune of more than 600 yards of offense against a defense put together by Vandy Head Coach Woody Widenhofer, who had designed and implemented the famous "Steel Curtain" defense while an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Blue Raiders also put up big offensive numbers that year against Troy (54 points), Idaho (70) and Arkansas State (54).
Middle Tennessee encountered Fedora on the other side of the field in 2009 when the Blue Raiders played, and defeated, Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl. Fedora was head coach of Southern Miss at the time.
"We'll be facing basically the same offense as we faced in the New Orleans Bowl," noted Stockstill. "The only difference is that North Carolina will have much better players. We have to move the ball, get first downs and keep their offense and our defense off the field."
Originally, the game shaped up as a battle of the quarterbacks. Bryn Renner, the Tar Heels senior quarterback, is a definite pro prospect, a certain early-round pick. Middle Tennessee will answer with senior Logan Kilgore, who has started since he was a sophomore, and has over three miles of passing yardage.
Blue Raider teammates, coaches and fans got a scare in the second half of last week's win over Western Carolina when Kilgore injured his right shoulder. Originally, it was thought he might be very limited in what he could do, if he could play at all, against North Carolina.
But Kilgore has responded well to treatment, shown marked improvement every day, regained his range of motion, and has declared himself ready and able to take the reins of his team against UNC.
Even so, Kilgore is not the Blue Raiders only weapon. Sophomore running back Jordan Parker, blasted thru a big hole in the Western Carolina defense and scampered 65 yards for a score on the games' first play from scrimmage.
The Blue Raider ground game will be a critical factor in the contest, helping to keep the Tar Heel offense off the field, and give the MT defense a chance to catch their breath.
If Middle Tennessee can do that, it could get really interesting.
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