This Week in Blue Raider Football: Historic wins
A week of firsts for the Blue Raiders against LA Tech and WKUOctober 9, 2013 ·
In this week of Blue Raider Football History, GoBlueRaiders.com recaps Middle Tennessee's first win over a Division 1-A team as a Division 1-A member and the team's first gridiron meeting with WKU.
October 7, 2000 - Middle Tennessee picks up historic victory against LA Tech
On September 4, 1999, Middle Tennessee made history. It was the date the Blue Raiders played Mississippi State in the program's first game as a Division 1-A member.
Middle Tennessee had been a stalwart at the 1-AA level, winning 10 Ohio Valley Conference titles and making seven 1-AA playoff appearances, advancing to the national semifinals in 1984.
It wasn't until the mid-1990s that the University began preparations for a move to 1-A football. While strictly a change only in football classification, many felt it would have a positive impact on the University. Under the leadership of University President Dr. James Walker and Athletic Director Lee Fowler, the University community decided to make the jump to the highest level of NCAA competition.
The 1999 football season was a transitional year in more ways than one as the Blue Raiders competed as an independent, struggling through a 3-8 season under first-year coach Andy McCollum. However, 2000 would look a lot different in Murfreesboro.
The year started rough for Middle Tennessee as the team went 1-3 in their first four games, the only win coming against former OVC foe and 1-AA opponent Murray State. But the Blue Raiders lined up on October 7 against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs intent on making school history.
LA Tech, fresh off an 8-3 season and Top 25 ranking a year earlier, came to Murfreesboro looking for redemption after a 1-4 start.
After allowing two LA Tech touchdowns in the Bulldogs first three drives, the Blue Raider defense came to life, forcing LA Tech into four punts and two turnovers over their next six possessions. The offense lit up the scoreboard, with a Hall of Fame-caliber ball carrier scoring four unanswered touchdowns to put the Raiders back on top.
Sophomore running back Dwone Hicks set three single-game school records on the night. Hicks rushed for 311 yards and six touchdowns, scoring 36 points -- records which still stand today. The only other Raider score was a punt block returned for a touchdown by Michael Woods in the 49-21 defeat of the Bulldogs.
The Middle Tennessee students recognized the importance of the win, storming the field and removing the south goal posts for a glorious victory march around campus.
The LA Tech game keyed an impressive run over the next few seasons. The Blue Raiders finished 2000 with a winning record and the Oct. 7, 2000 win was the first of 13 victories over the next 18 games for Coach McCollum's Blue Raiders, a run which included a win over in-state rival Vanderbilt in 2001.
Over the ensuing decade, the Blue Raiders would earn two conference titles and three bowl berths in five years, while ultimately laying the foundation for the 2013 move to Conference USA.
October 10, 1914 - Middle Tennessee beats WKU in school's first meeting
College football has been built on rivalries. After a long-standing rivalry with Tennessee Tech was lost in the move to 1-A football, Western Kentucky has stepped into that roll as Middle Tennessee's chief rival.
The first recorded football meeting between WKU and Middle Tennessee came on October 10, 1914. Coach Alfred B. Miles, commonly regarded as the college's first football coach, led his Raider team to a 47-0 blowout of the Hilltoppers en route to a 5-0-1 season and the first undefeated campaign in school history.
Over the next four decades the schools would meet sparingly, until the Blue Raiders' move to the Ohio Valley Conference in 1952. The two schools faced one another each year until 1991 (except for 1986), despite WKU's 1982 departure for the newly-formed Sun Belt Conference. The 15-year hiatus came to an end shortly after WKU announced their intention to move to Division 1-A in football.
Since both schools joined 1-A/FBS play, the rivalry has been especially heated. The visiting team has won all but one game and one of the matchups went to overtime. This season, the teams will again take a year off from one another until WKU completes its move to Conference USA for the 2014 season.
It's only fitting that the rivalry continues, with WKU being the closest FBS-level public university to Murfreesboro only 98 miles down Highway 231.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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