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December 1, 2008
Raiders on the spot: UL-Lafayette
With a bowl spot likely on the line, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Lafayette will battle in Cajun Country Wednesday night.
The Blue Raiders are riding a three game winning streak while ULL has dropped three in a row, but with the stakes this high the records can be tossed aside.
GoMiddle.com picks its five Raiders on the spot for Wednesday's matchup.
1.] Phillip Tanner
Over the last two games, Tanner has given opposing defenses a reason to fear the Blue Raiders rushing attack. The ground game that struggled for much of the year has seen Tanner emerge as a huge playmaker. With improved play from a young offensive line, Tanner flourished against North Texas with more than 150 rushing yards and five touchdowns, with a sixth score coming on a 92-yard kickoff return. The reigning national player of the week will face a Louisiana-Lafayette defense that has struggled to stop the run this year and currently ranks 111th nationally and last in the Sun Belt in run defense. The Cajuns should once again allow Tanner to have a major impact on Wednesday's game.
2.] Trevor Jenkins
The Cajuns come into Wednesday's game with one of the top ground attacks in America. ULL is currently averaging a staggering 273 rushing yards per game, good for fifth best in the country. They are led by star running back Tyrell Fenroy, who had been dominant before being recently slowed by injuries. When Fenroy and quarterback Michael Desormeaux are at their best not many defenses can slow them down. Jenkins must step up this week and serve as a key run clogger on the defensive line. The veteran has seen plenty of action during his lengthy career and is making his 36th straight start. He doesn't have gaudy numbers, but stopping the run starts with the big guy in the middle.
3.] Joe Craddock
The senior quarterback has had a terrific final year at Middle Tennessee. Craddock has provided steady leadership under center during the team's three game winning steak. With Wednesday's game potentially being his last, Craddock will do everything in his power to keep his college career alive for at least one more game. After watching Clint Marks lead Middle Tennessee to the Motor City Bowl in 2006, Craddock surely wants his chance at glory. Smart game management from Craddock on Wednesday will go a long way toward helping MT punch a bowl ticket for the second time in three years.
4.] Danny Carmichael
The veteran linebacker is currently playing the best football of his Middle Tennessee career. Carmichael has played inspired in recent weeks and has made major defensive contributions in wins over ULM, Western Kentucky, and North Texas. For the Raiders to go bowling this year, Carmichael must once again provide steady leadership in the front seven. He'll be a key piece of the gameplan to slow down Fenroy and keep Desmormeaux contained around the pocket.
5.] Alan Gendreau
Points could be at a premium in Wednesday night's game. Often big stakes games like this one can be decided by a play or two on either side. Gendreau has settled in this year after a shaky start and has emerged as a steady option. Gendreau has connected on his last eight field goal attempts and his hot foot could be critical against the Cajuns if the game goes down to the wire.