The Charlotte 49ers will close the doors to Jerry Richardson Stadium this Saturday against Middle Tennessee. It may be the most important home game in school history. After a shocking loss to Rice, where Charlotte gave up a 21 point lead, this game can be considered a must-win.
There are many reasons why Charlotte has to beat the Blue Raiders, but none as big as keeping the bowl dreams alive. The 49ers have to win out the rest of their schedule to be eligible for a bowl. Another reason, perhaps, to show the rest of the conference that home-field advantage is a real thing in the Queen City. Charlotte has one win, opposed to their three wins away, at Jerry Richardson Stadium. Lastly, this is the final game for the first football class of Charlotte. Players like Larry Ogunjobi, Kalif Phillips, and Austin Duke don’t want to close their careers with a loss in their final home game.
Last season, Middle Tennessee dominated Charlotte 73-14. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. For those that can’t make it, the game will be streamed on ESPN3 as well.
START FAST, FINISH STRONG
Read the headline: Charlotte did the first part, but not the last part last week against Rice. It was a tale of two halves as it looked like Charlotte would win their third straight game. The 49ers were up 21 points at one point and shifted into cruise control. That’s where Charlotte screwed up. Rice was able to reel off 22 unanswered points to come back and dim the lights on a bowl berth.
So how does Charlotte play a complete game? Stick to what works best. Charlotte opened the game by running the ball all over the Rice defense, which is why the 49ers held a 21 point lead. After a 27 yard rush from Hasaan Klugh to begin their second half, Charlotte began to stray away from the running game. At one point in the fourth quarter, with a 21-16 lead, Charlotte went three and out on three consecutive incomplete passes. The next drive, Rice marched down the field to score the game-winning touchdown.
The 49ers have three capable runners in Phillips, Klugh, and Robert Washington. When Charlotte runs the ball consistently, it allows for a successful passing attack. Not to mention, running the ball allows the 49ers to have control of possession and the game. For these two remaining games, Charlotte needs to stick with what they know best.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE SCOUTING REPORT
The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee sit at a 6-4 record on the season, which means they are bowl eligible. But for Middle Tennessee, things have not gone well as of late, as they are currently on a two-game losing streak. Those two teams are UTSA and Marshall, who Charlotte beat earlier in the season.
Middle Tennessee have a talented trio in their offense. Quarterback Brent Stockstill has 27 passing touchdowns and a 150.52 efficiency rating on the year, I’Tavius Mathers has 1190 rushing yards and 16 total touchdowns, and Richie James has 1254 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. That means it’s all hands on deck to stop this high powered offense for Charlotte.
Similar to Rice, Middle Tennessee is not a strong defense against the run. The Blue Raiders give up 192 rushing yards a game and 26 rushing touchdowns on the year. The previous two weeks, Middle Tennessee has given up seven rushing touchdowns. Hopefully, for Charlotte, it will go much differently against Middle Tennessee on the ground than it did against Rice. For bowl sake, may Charlotte work the ground and pound.