Synopsis: Middle Tennessee can lay claim to a victory over an ACC opponent, albeit the moribund Maryland Terrapins. It’s the first bowl appearance for the Blue Raiders since 2006. Seven of their nine wins came by more than a touchdown, but their three losses were by a combined 68 points.
Southern Miss finished 6-0 at home, while going 1-5 on the road. Its five losses were by a combined 34 points, half as much as the Blue Raiders. Running back Damion Fletcher has overcome adversity this season, including a suspension prior to the season, to rush for nearly 1,000 yards on the year.
Player to watch: MTSU quarterback Dwight Dasher (pictured) lives up to his surname as a truly dual-threat option under center. He needs just 47 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, and has accounted for 32 touchdowns total in 2009. If he continues his great play in the bowl game, the Blue Raiders could put a great finishing touch on a successful season.
Who has the edge? The Golden Eagles have played a much more difficult schedule despite the worse record entering the game, and are much more battle tested. The biggest advantage for MTSU is the intangibles of playing in a bowl game, which is a much bigger deal for their program than for Southern Miss.
Prediction: Southern Miss 28, MTSU 20