In what may be the most challenging schedule in Middle Tennessee history, the Blue Raiders will face five 2014 bowl teams, host neighboring rival Vanderbilt for the first time in 95 years, and play three games against the Power 5.
The Blue Raiders’ 2015 schedule is being jointly announced today by Conference USA and Director of Athletics Chris Massaro.
“I think this is the best home schedule we have ever had at Middle Tennessee,” said Massaro. “It should be very exciting for our fans as we host local rival Vanderbilt for the first time since 1920 and Marshall, who ended the year ranked No. 22 nationally. Along with a tough non-conference slate we will face our normal challenging C-USA schedule. Last year our league had the best bowl record in the country but I am confident our team will be ready.”
The Blue Raiders’ 101st season of football will include home dates against Jackson State, Charlotte, Vanderbilt, FIU, Marshall and North Texas. The road contests will see the Blue Raiders facing Alabama, Illinois, WKU, Louisiana Tech, FAU and UTSA.
The 2015 alignment will feature seven teams in the East Division and six teams in the West Division. Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and WKU comprise the East Division, while Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, UTEP and UTSA make up the West Division.
Each school in the West Division will play every team in its division once for five games, while playing three cross-over opponents from the opposite division. Three schools in the East Division will play every team in its division once for six games, while playing two cross-over opponents from the opposite division. Four schools in the East Division will play five opponents in its division once for five games, while playing three cross-over opponents from the opposite division. East Division schools playing five division games were randomly selected by a computer scheduling application and two intra-division matchups in the East will not take place this season (Charlotte-WKU and Middle Tennessee-Old Dominion).
The 2015 schedule has 13 playing weeks, which provides for one open date for each team. The last two seasons were 14-week schedules, providing two bye weeks per school. The 2015 schedule is again a one-year model, with Charlotte replacing UAB in the East Division. The league championship game is set for December 5 on ESPN or ESPN2.
The season will get underway on Saturday Sept. 5 at home against Jackson State. The Blue Raiders and Tigers have not played since 1990 in the opening round of the I-AA playoffs (MT won 28-7).
The Blue Raiders will then hit the road to face college football power Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 12. It will be the third meeting against the Tide and first since 2005.
Middle Tennessee will then open Conference USA play at home against new football member Charlotte. The Blue Raiders and 49ers will battle on Sept. 19 before heading to Champaign, IL on Sept. 26 to face Big Ten foe Illinois.
The Blue Raiders will return home on Oct. 3 to face SEC member Vanderbilt which will be their third game against the Power 5 in the first five weeks. The Commodores will be playing in Murfreesboro for the first time since 1920 and it will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2005. MT has won the last three in a row.
In what will be a very challenging three-game stretch, Middle Tennessee will head 100 miles up the road to take on rival WKU on Oct. 10. The last four meetings between the two schools have all been decided by five points or less and two games went to overtime.
The Blue Raiders will then return home to face FIU on Oct. 17, a team they carry a 4-1 mark against at Floyd Stadium.
MT will play its eighth straight week on Oct. 24 when it travels to 2014 West Division Champion Louisiana Tech. It will be the first meeting between the Raiders and Bulldogs since 2000 and the first trip to Ruston since 1999.
Following the only open date of the season, the Blue Raiders host league champion Marshall on Nov. 7. The last time they met in Floyd Stadium was 2013 when Middle Tennessee threw a last second touchdown pass to upset the Herd on national television, 51-49.
The Blue Raiders will then head to Boca Raton on Nov. 14 to face Florida Atlantic before hosting North Texas on Nov. 21.
The Blue Raiders will conclude the regular season on Nov. 28 at UTSA. MT will be making its first visit to San Antonio.
2015 MIDDLE TENNESSEE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Sept. 5 JACKSON STATE
Sept. 12 at Alabama
Sept. 19 CHARLOTTE
Sept. 26 at Illinois
Oct. 3 VANDERBILT
Oct. 10 at WKU
Oct. 17 FIU
Oct. 24 at Louisiana Tech
Nov. 7 MARSHALL
Nov. 14 at Florida Atlantic
Nov. 21 NORTH TEXAS
Nov. 28 at UTSA