An appearance for both on ESPN is akin to an appearance on America's Got Talent. You've got two options: make an impact that the judges won't forget, or watch three red X's light up marking the end of your day.
Middle Tennessee got the X's.
Last night's game against Troy was set up for a Blue Raider victory, hopefully one that could propel the program.
Neither of that happened.
Instead viewers were given a three hour commercial for Troy football. Whether it was the long interview with former Troy DE DeMarcus Ware or the constant attention shown on Troy's recruiting strategy, Middle wasn't recognized.
It was even worse on the field.
The word execution is one that can not be stressed enough in the Tony Franklin offense. Middle Tennessee's Dwight Dasher had a horrendous first-half, completing less than 30% of his passes.
If a team that already can't run, can't throw, the thoughts of victory becomes bleak.
Even for as bad as the Blue Raiders played, they were still only down 7-0 with two minutes left to go in the second quarter. Troy had possession and seemed content on playing for the field goal. It seemed that the worst half of Blue Raider football could be salvaged in the second-half.
Troy didn't give the Blue Raiders the chance.
The Trojans hit a 50 yard pass to end the first half, putting them up 14-0 going into the locker room, at home.
The game never got any better as Troy backup QB, Dontavious Parker, got involved in the scoring party with two TDs from the Wildcat formation. Parker had six snaps, all runs, for 83 yards.
The Blue Raiders fell for the wildcat, six times, hardly defensive execution.
The fact is that Middle Tennessee had numerous chances to score on Troy to either tie the game at 7-7 or take a lead. For a team to beat Troy, especially on the road, you have to get up on them, make them play assignment football.
When you allow Troy to play in a wild-man style of defense, their speed becomes too much for many teams to handle.
Troy is not simply a scrappy Sun Belt team, they'd be a legitimate threat in any conference.
For a team like Middle to contend with Troy or the other big boys, consistent QB play must occur. Tuesday's game was a perfect example of what happens when your strongest point becomes your weakest. The team can not compete.
The good news for Blue Raider fans is that the season is hardly finished. With 7-5 and even 8-4 a possibility Bowl opportunities may open up.
No team has ever won the Sun Belt with an undefeated record, so Blue Raider fans can start rooting against Troy from here on out.
The Blue Raiders will face a tough SEC opponent in Mississippi State on October 17 at Johnny Red Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro. The game will be on ESPNU, another shot for the Blue Raiders to make an impact.