Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:15 PM EST odds are subject to change.
First Responder Bowl - Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
Memphis -7½ -106 over Utah
3:15 PM EST. There is some strangeness about Utah State’s pass defense numbers. You see, the rank is high at #25 after the Aggies only allowed 198 passing yards per game. On paper, that is going to look pretty sweet and it’ll be used to influence the market into getting behind what appears to be a decent defense while taking back a bunch of points. However, a close look reveals how some numbers can be misleading. The reason that Utah State’s pass defense ranked 25th was because teams didn’t have to pass against them. Instead, they ran over the Aggies with almost 200 yards rushing per game. Why pass? Even more interesting is that the Aggies' pass defense TD count was high. They allowed 22 TD passes, including three to BYU, two to Hawaii, four to San Jose State and four to Boise State. The Aggies pass defense was a breeze to penetrate once teams’ got down there. Opponents ran the ball an average of 41 times per game against USU.
This is a Utah State team that lost 55-0 to Alabama, 35-7 to Weber State, 28-14 to Wyoming and 42-23 to Boise while racking up its six wins versus a bunch of nobodies, Utah State’s best win this year came against Air Force (34-27) but that was the week after Air Force beat Navy, thus it was a giant letdown spot for the Falcons.
Memphis didn’t have a signature win this year either but that’s because its season was filled with bad luck. The Tigers lost to Houston by one point (33-32). They lost to East Carolina by two points and to +#25 UCF by just 7. They hung with Tulane and also lost to SMU by just three. The Memphis Tigers came damn close to racking up a 10-2 record, thus they come in here as an underpriced favorite because the market and media put so much emphasis on wins and losses.
Sophomore Seth Henigan played just about every snap for Memphis this season, whereas Utah State shuffled through four different QBs, and the senior RB with 237 carries, Calvin Tyler, Jr., has opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield talks like a man who’s been put on notice and hooked up to a hot seat, constantly referencing how “competing for championships” is where the program needs to be, not coming off back-to-back 6-6 seasons. He is reportedly eyeing possible staff changes but waiting until after this game to evaluate, so the coordinators and position coaches should be pushing every player for A-Game planning and execution. You want an underpriced favorite today? This is it.
Memphis -7½ -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)