By winning their last three games, the Blue Raiders (6-6) earned a second consecutive bowl berth for the first time since joining the FBS in 1999. MTSU did it in thrilling fashion rallying past Sun Belt Conference co-champion FIU on a late touchdown run for a 28-27 win December 4 making them bowl eligible.
The Blue Raiders are headed to their third bowl game in five seasons despite being tied for most turnovers in the nation with 33.
Miami had the nation’s best turnaround going from 1-11 in 2009 to 9-4 and MAC Champions in 2010. The difference between Miami’s 1-7 conference record last year and the team’s 7-1 mark in 2010 is the greatest in the MAC’s 64-year history.
Michael Haywood will not coach Miami in the bowl game after he was hired to replace Dave Wannstedt at Pitt; DB coach Lance Guidry will serve as interim coach for the game.
QB Dwight Dasher set a bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 201 and totaled four TDs in a 42-32 victory over Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl last year; he is the 15 th player in NCAA history to throw for 5,000 yards and rush for 2,000.
Sun Belt defensive player of the year Jamari Lattimore matched a school record with 11 1/2 sacks - sixth most in the country.
Austin Boucher threw for a career-best 333 yards with a touchdown in the championship game. He has averaged 233.6 yards in the last three contests since taking over for starter Zac Dysert, who suffered a lacerated spleen November 10. Coming out of high school Boucher received a late from Ohio State but turned it down and kept his commitment to Miami.
RB Thomas Merriweather has run for an average of 111.4 yards and six touchdowns during the win streak, and he could be in line for another big day against a Middle Tennessee defense which has allowed 193.7 yards per game on the ground and 23 rushing TDs.
Passing Yards Per Game
Rushing Yards Per Game
Points Per Game
Pick: Miami 26 – MTSU 24
Comment: Boucher has added a different dimension and an added toughness to the offense as they have upset Temple (23-3) and NIU (26-21) in their last two games. The RedHawks are playing with an incredible amount of confidence and even with losing their coach to Pitt they should be able to hold on and beat a mistake-prone MTSU team.