Middle Tennessee vs Arkansas State Free College Football Pick 12-16-17

Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas State

Five years ago, Middle Tennessee State faced Arkansas State in a conference game. Both teams were in the Sun Belt and a guy by the name of Gus Malzahn was the head coach of the Red Wolves, who won that day 45-0 in a game that clinched a conference title for Arkansas State.

Free Pick, Video and Write Up Inside

This year, the Blue Raiders, now of Conference USA, will face the Red Wolves again in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. For MTSU and head coach Rick Stockstill, reaching a bowl game has likely never been more difficult. The Blue Raiders faced more injuries than a team could imagine.

Stockstill’s son, Brent, is a four-year starter at quarterback for Middle Tennessee. After leading the Blue Raiders to a 30-23 upset of Syracuse, Stockstill missed the next six games with an injury. MTSU went 2-4 in his absence. Stockstill did return to lead the Blue Raiders to a 3-1 regular season finish and is prepared to lead his team to a bowl win against Arkansas State. For the season, Stockstill has thrown for 1,440 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Middle Tennessee’s best wide receiver, Richie James, has missed seven games, including the final four of the regular season. Several Blue Raiders offensive linemen missed games as well. Only four players on the entire roster started every single game for MTSU.

The Red Wolves (7-4) went 6-2 in Sun Belt play. Their senior defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones won the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Quarterback Justice Hansen, who threw for 3,630 yards and 34 touchdowns, won the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Hansen runs an offense that produces just under 500 yards per game (497.7) and scores 38.5 points a game. Hansen has plenty of targets from which to choose including Justin McInnis (42), Chris Murray (44), and TE Blake Mack (46) each of whom has at least 40 receptions.

The Red Wolves have been to a bowl game in each of the last six seasons. They are 3-3 in those games. Arkansas State won last year’s Cure Bowl with a 31-13 victory over UCF. The Blue Raiders have not had much recent success in bowl games. They have lost their last four including the Hawaii Bowl last year and the Bahamas Bowl in 2015.