Teldrick Ross
Middle Tennessee's Teldrick Ross will be a cornerstone of the Blue Raiders situation (PHOTO CREDIT: MTSU Athletics)

Middle Tennessee Preview: Could Blue Raiders Get to C-USA Title Game?

MTSU should be a top-tier team in a slightly weakened C-USA this year.  The Blue Raiders return eight starters on defense, and several all-CUSA players on offense.  Veteran coach Rick Stockstill and key home games give the team a chance for a winning season and a strong bowl.


THE CONF: Conference USA

2022 RECORD: 8-5 (went to Hawaii Bowl, beating San Diego State 25-23)

CONF. FINISH: Tied for 4th in C-USA

HEAD COACH: Rick Stockstill (18th year at school/overall - 109-103)

FIVE ALL-STAR CANDIDATES: Tra Fluellen, Sr./FS, (Bronco Nagurski watchlist 2023 - team-leading 104 tackles); Frank Peasant, Jr., Sr./RB (2023 Preseason CUSA Watchlist, 774 yards rushing, 286 receiving yards); Keylan Rutledge, Soph./OG, (Outland Trophy Watchlist - 11 games, 6 starts); Devyn Curtis, Soph./LB (3rd Team Preseason PFF Freshman All American in 2022 - 11 starts, 55 total stops); Teldrick Ross, Sr./DB (2nd team All-CUSA 2022 - 76 total tackles 2022, 2 INT returns for TD in 2021, and 22).

THE NEWCOMER: Jaiden Credel, Soph./RB (Northern Illinois transfer, rushed for 288 yards last year)Credel's joining an already good backfield, and the running game should help a still youthful QB.

Frank Peasant

Middle Tennessee RB Frank Peasant crossed the goal line (PHOTO CREDIT: Kaitlyn Hungerford/MTSU Athletics)


Stockstill runs a pass-heavy offense, over 60 percent of the plays the last five years. But also with few turnovers, and a plus/minus on turnovers in the positive, including an impressive +12 turnover margin last year.

Stockstill has coached for 18 years, all with MTSU, and returns eight starters on defense.  The unit should be formidable, especially in a diluted conference. This is one of the top rated secondaries, and the linebacking crew becomes more experienced this year. The defensive line is bolstered by the signing of Shakai Woods, a Rivals 3-star prospect. Rivals lists 17 commitments for 2023, and most are two-stars and above.

The offense relies on the running of Frank Peasant, Jr.  He ran for 777 yards and 9 touchdowns last year.  He also was key in the passing game with 28 receptions and 2 TDs. Jaiden Credel is a 6-foot-0, 190-pound running back and was a Rivals 3-star rated RB — a Northern Illinois transfer who should add depth.

The offense should be dominant against the new programs entering C-USA.  For perspective, three of the four losses and all four of the conference losses last year were against teams no longer in C-USA.  The only loss to a current conference foe was a road loss to Louisana Tech.  Which leads to the next thought.


Louisiana Tech on Oct. 10 is a must-win game, as Louisiana Tech has been a losing team lately. They are the only remaining conference team to beat MTSU the past two years. This one is easy to overlook, just before the Liberty game. That leads to the next thought.


Liberty is forecast to be a strong team, with Jamey Chadwell the coach coming over from Coastal Carolina. This is at Liberty, on a weeknight, national television so that crowd should be riotous.


Whether the defensive prowess can make up for a young offense will determine if MTSU makes the title game. It's hard to see them making it to the title game because they have two road games against top conference teams WKU and Liberty. MTSU could make it to the top if Western Kentucky or Liberty face injuries or lose key players.

Tra Fluellen

Middle Tennessee's Tra Fluellen will be counted on heavily in 2023 (PHOTO CREDIT: MTSU Athletics)


Western Kentucky, UTEP, and Liberty are the toughest conference games.  Seven wins is the ceiling, even with that the Blue Raiders likely wouldn't make the conference title game.