Roy Exum: MTSU's Biggest Win Ever

  • Monday, September 26, 2022
  • Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

There are those among us who believe Tennessee’s 38-33 win over Florida was the biggest win in the South on Saturday but, ah, that’s because they still don’t know that “little” Middle Tennessee State, a 25-point underdog to nationally ranked Miami, just clobbered the proud-and-might Hurricanes in a far-better football game.

That’s right, MTSU clobbered No. 25 Miami, 45-31, Saturday in a modern-day tale of David-and-Goliath that was no fluke.

“It was a butt-kicking from the very beginning,” coach Rick Stockstill grinned joyously at what will go down as the greatest victory in the Blue Raiders' storied history.

In what was obviously a “money guarantee” game between the giant and little David, Miami offensive lineman Jalen Rivers said it best. “We looked at that team and believed, ‘Oh, we’re going to win this game’ so we came in obviously unmotivated … and got punched right in the mouth!”

Miami coach Mario Cristobal, hired amid great hoopla earlier this year, was blunt: “They coached better than us. They played better than us. They were better. We didn't do a good enough job. There's no excuse. Real men look in the mirror and do something about it and don't allow any cracks to happen from the inside. We all came here for a purpose and a reason. We've got a lot of work to do.

“It was a poor job by me. It was a poor job by our organization … and a credit to Middle for doing what they did.”

He wasn't wrong. Middle Tennessee State (3-1) never trailed, forced turnovers on Miami's first three possessions, stopped the Hurricanes (2-2) on downs on three other occasions and scored on passes of 69, 71 and 98 yards - and had another 89-yard pass in there for good measure.

DJ England-Chisolm caught two passes - the first a 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter, the other being the 98-yarder in the fourth - to help the Blue Raiders seal the upset. MTSU’s Chase Cunningham completed 16 of 25 passes, including a 69-yard scoring throw to Elijah Metcalf. Cunningham and Frank Peasant also ran for scores for the Blue Raiders, and defensive end Zaylin Wood returned an interception for a touchdown.

"I trust my guys to the end, and they won every single time," Cunningham said afterwards.

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke - the ACC's rookie of the year last season and the No. 21 prospect on Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board for the NFL draft - was benched in the third quarter due to the Blue Raider’s stifling defense.

A week after not producing a touchdown in a 17-9 loss at Texas A&M, Van Dyke struggled again, this time against what was perceived to be inferior competition. But the Blue Raiders picked him off twice before he was ultimately pulled by first-year coach Cristobal after completing 16 of 32 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown.

* * *

VOLS AT NO. 8 IN NEWEST AP POLL

(FROM ESPN) – Tennessee and N.C. State broke into the top 10 of The Associated Press college football poll Sunday, and Florida State is back in the rankings for the first time in four years.

Georgia remained No. 1 and received 55 of 63 first-place votes in the Top 25. No. 2 Alabama (four first-place votes), No. 3 Ohio State (four first-place votes), No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Clemson all held their places.

Oklahoma's upset loss to Kansas State created room for teams to move up, including USC to No. 6 and Kentucky to No. 7.

Tennessee moved up three spots to No. 8, its best ranking since 2006 and first top-10 appearance since a few weeks at ninth in the first half of 2016. That was the last time the Volunteers started 4-0. They also knocked Florida out of the rankings by snapping a five-game losing streak in the rivalry.

AP Top 25 Football Poll

First-place votes in parentheses

TEAM / RECORD

1. Georgia (55)  4-0

2. Alabama (4)  4-0

3. Ohio State (4) 4-0

4. Michigan       4-0

5. Clemson       4-0

6. USC  4-0

7. Kentucky       4-0

8. Tennessee     4-0

9. Oklahoma State         3-0

10. NC State      4-0

11. Penn State  4-0

12. Utah           3-1

13. Oregon       3-1

14. Ole Miss      4-0

15. Washington 4-0

16. Baylor         3-1

17. Texas A&M  3-1

18. Oklahoma   3-1

19. BYU 2-1

20. Arkansas     3-1

21. Minnesota  4-0

22. Wake Forest 3-1

23. Florida State 4-0

24. Pittsburgh 3-1

25. Kansas State 3-1

Oklahoma State remained at No. 9, and NC State jumped two spots to No. 10 for its best ranking since it was 10th in 2002.

Texas and Miami both dropped out of the rankings after being beaten by unranked teams to fall to 2-2. The Longhorns blew a 14-point second-half lead and lost in overtime at Texas Tech, while Miami, which started the season at No. 16, was upended by a four-touchdown underdog in Middle Tennessee.

While the Hurricanes and Gators slipped out, No. 23 Florida State (4-0) moved in. The Seminoles are off to their best start since 2015 and in the AP Top 25 for the first time since beginning the 2018 season No. 19, snapping a streak of 69 polls unranked.

* * *

GA. TECH BOARD SCHEDULES SPECIAL MEETING FOR MONDAY

(FROM ESPN) – The Georgia Tech Athletic Association board has a special meeting scheduled for Monday, where decisions could come on embattled coach Geoff Collins and athletic director Todd Stansbury.

A team official confirmed the meeting to ESPN but did not provide any further details. A Georgia Tech source told ESPN that changes are expected within the program Monday.

Georgia Tech fell to 1-3 after Saturday's 27-10 loss to UCF. The team also lost 42-0 to Ole Miss and 41-10 to Clemson to open the season.

Collins is 10-28 as Georgia Tech coach after arriving from Temple. Stansbury has led Georgia Tech's athletic department since 2016. He hired Collins and brought him back after a disappointing 2021 season. If Georgia Tech fires Collins, industry sources do not expect Stansbury to hire his replacement.

Collins will make approximately $3.3 million this season and has three years left on his initial contract with Georgia Tech. The team will visit defending ACC champion Pitt on Saturday.

royexum@aol.com

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