JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) -- Bradley Robinson's 88-yard interception return for a score did a lot for Middle Tennessee.
The Blue Raiders led only 10-3 in the third quarter until Robinson's touchdown turned the game around for MTSU, which went on to a 38-10 victory Saturday over Arkansas State.
With the win, the Blue Raiders (7-3, 6-0 Sun Belt Conference) set up a showdown with Troy (5-4, 4-0) on Nov. 25 for the conference championship. The MTSU victory also ended an eight-game home field winning streak for Arkansas State (5-5, 3-2). The Indians were one of three teams that shared the conference title last season.
Robinson's play, on ASU's first possession of the second half, ended a potential game-tying Indian drive and paved the way for an easy victory.
"We're close and we know what we've got in front of us," said Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill. "We know if we win one more we will win the conference. We can't get much closer than what we are right now."
The Blue Raiders took a 7-0 lead with a 39-yard drive that was set up by a failed fake punt. Eugene Gross scored on a 1-yard run with 7:51 left in the first quarter.
Smith's 29-yard field goal made it 10-0 with 3:56 left in the first quarter. Arkansas State scored on Josh Arauco's 33-yard field goal with 4:58 left in the half.
"We had some opportunities in the ball game and we did not take advantage of them," ASU coach Steve Roberts said. "You have to give Middle Tennessee credit. They did a good job and are in contention for a conference championship."
Middle Tennessee, which had starting field position at the 50, the ASU 39 and its own 41, 24 and 42 in the first half, led 10-3 at the halftime.
Robinson's interception return came with 8:48 left in the third quarter after the Indians had driven 60 yards in 13 plays on their first possession of the second half. The Blue Raiders made it 24-3 on Desmond Gee's 7-yard run with 2:49 left in the third quarter.
Demarcus McNair, who had 98 yards rushing, scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 5-yard run with 7:30 left. He added a 48-yard run with 4:01 left to make it 38-10.
Reggie Arnold gained 115 yards on 20 carries for ASU.
MTSU finished with 345 yards offense while ASU had 308. The Indians ran 80 plays to the Blue Raiders' 51.
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