First Responder Bowl Preview and Pick

The late afternoon game of today’s four-game bowl slate will feature the Memphis Tigers squaring off with the Utah State Aggies. We’ll preview the game and examine why the recent point total movement should have you jumping on the over.

Game Preview

When it comes to scoring, only a few teams in the country are more consistent than the Memphis Tigers. The Tigers' offense averaged 32.9 points per game this season and only scored less than 28 points twice. Quarterback Seth Henigan led a high-powered passing attack, with Memphis averaging 36.1 passing attempts and 282.7 passing yards a game. Henigan threw for 3,287 yards and 19 touchdowns during the regular season.

The Tigers rushing game was also solid putting up a combined 28 rushing touchdowns on the season with three different running backs rushing for over 270 yards. Memphis’ offense is the main reason this team was bowl eligible, as the Tigers' defensive shortcomings led to many shootout losses and the overall 6-6 finish.

Memphis was ranked 90th in points allowed per game and 109th in passing yards allowed per game. The primary strength of the Tigers' defense was stopping the run, as they were able to hold opponents to an average of just 123.7 rush yards a game.

The match-up between the Tigers' defense and Utah State running back Calvin Tyler Jr. will be a good one to watch unfold as the Aggies’ halfback rushed for 1,043 yards and is playing today despite already declaring for the NFL draft. The 6-6 Aggies were 25th in the country in rush play percentage and 10th in the country in rush attempts per game.

A big reason for the heavy reliance on the run was the various injuries to the quarterback position, leaving the Aggies to rely on their fourth-string quarterback at times. Today’s starter is backup Cooper Legas, who played the bulk of the season and finished with 1,465 yards and 11 touchdown passes.

Pick for the Game

The point total for this game opened at 61.5 but has been bet down to 57 as of today, and my best bet is the over of 57. The number moving has made me like where the number sits now, especially since nine of the Tigers' 12 games went over that number this season.

Memphis only allowed less than 34 points on defense in four games this season, and despite the injuries, the Aggies had three of their last four games go over the point total and managed to score 27 or more in three of those games. The Aggies began to click on offense late in the season but continued to play below-average defense as the season went on.

Utah State allowed an average of 30.2 points and 396.5 yards per game this season, and in their final three games, their pass defense began to fall apart, allowing 220 or more yards in all three games. The Aggies will also be without starting cornerback Andre Grayson today, so Seth Henigan has a real chance to have a big day through the air. I’m expecting another Memphis shootout to wrap up their season.


  • Over 57 (Would play up to 58 if that’s best available)

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