Memphis Vs. Utah State Predictions, Picks, Odds First Responder Bowl (12/27/22)
It’s one of the most glorious days of the week as we get four college football bowl games for our Tuesday viewing pleasure. Yes, you read that right. Four of them. One of them includes the First Responder Bowl as the Memphis Tigers battle it out against the Utah State Aggies. Both just made the cusp after mediocre seasons and will look to end on a high note. Who will come out on top in what is to be an expected pass heavy game script?
Memphis Vs. Utah State Odds
Oddsmakers initially believed the Memphis Tigers would potentially cruise to victory, opening them up to as high as -10. Bettors were quick to disagree, taking Utah State down to as low as +7.5. This kind of comes as a surprise as Utah State will be missing a massive important piece in the backfield due to injuries and opt outs. Even though Memphis isn’t good at defending the pass, being forced to play one dimensional doesn’t do the Aggies offense any favors as Memphis can sit back in coverage more often.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored in bunches on both ends as oddsmakers set the total as high as 60.5. Bettors have been in agreement, failing to nudge the total either way with it continuing to sit at the opening number. This is expected to be a pass heavy game script as Memphis brings continuity to their offense with a weak run game while Utah State is missing their backfield as previously mentioned. Will their secondaries be able to limit each other’s offenses?
Memphis Vs. Utah State Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Under 60.5
I think so. While the spread movement has been most curious, with intentions of adding some pieces should it hit Memphis -7, I will instead stick with my full game position for now with my under 60.5 ticket. This is an odd one as normally I base my under tickets off a run heavy game script with two preferable rush defenses, but instead we are looking at a pass happy plan from both ends.
Especially from Utah State, as their backfield will be near non-existent after leading rusher Calvin Tyler Jr decided to opt out and focus on the NFL Draft. He was a crucial part to their offensive success, finishing the season with 1,043 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Not only are they without Tyler Jr, but their backup running back Robert Briggs has been out since November with a season ending injury.
While their ground game never really found consistent success, ranking well below average in Off Rush Success Rate, this leaves their hands tied with the game script by being forced to go pass heavy. This is a cause for concern as Utah State’s pass attack ranks 104th in Off Pass Success Rate and 96th in Pass Explosiveness.
Leading the Aggies anemic passing unit is dual threat quarterback Cooper Legas. While the Tigers second level will have to respect his running ability, they can take a breath of relief as Cooper is mediocre at best in the pocket. He has been turnover prone all season, nearly matching his touchdown to interception numbers. Should the Tigers generate any pressure to the backfield, then they should have little issue with getting the Aggies offense off the field early and often.
Memphis Vs. Utah State Key Matchups
Can Utah State’s defense limit the Tigers pass attack?
Memphis pass attack vs Utah State coverage
Memphis brings a more balanced offensive scheme in comparison to Utah State in this matchup. While successfully being able to establish the run, a brunt of their success has come through the air off the arm of quarterback Seth Henigan.
While not the most Explosive passing unit, Henigan has excelled at hitting his receivers for modest gains at a time. He comes into this one with 3,287 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. This resulted in passing ranks of 42nd in Off Pass Success Rate and 59th in PPA.
He will have his work cut out for him in this one as Utah State has built their success this season off of stopping the pass. The Aggies currently rank well above average in Def Pass Success Rate. While susceptible to Pass Explosiveness, the Tigers don’t pose a threat in that area so that should be neutralized.
With Utah State’s offense being as anemic as it gets, while being more than capable of limiting the Tigers pass attack, I will take the under in what will be a thrilling Tuesday afternoon game.