The Cyclones are a fairly healthy team and while RB David Montgomery (1095 yards) is nursing an ankle injury, he is listed as probable for this game. They will be missing DE Matt Leo, who was out the last few weeks of the season. RB Doroland Dorceus (201 yards) is listed as questionable for Memphis, but it would not be a big deal if he missed the game as Memphis has plenty of offensive weapons. The defense has not been great for them and they could be a bit shorthanded on that side of the ball as DBs Tim Gordon, Shaun Rupert and Marcus Green are all out indefinitely. It could hurt them some against a good ISU passing game.
The Bowl season continues on Saturday as the Big 12 Conference will square off with the American Athletic Conference as the Iowa State Cyclones duke it out with the Memphis Tigers in the Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The Cyclones went 7-5 this year and are off a 20-19 loss at Kansas State, while the Tigers went 10-2 on the year and come in off a 62-55 OT loss to UCF in the AAC Title game.
Cyclones did Not Finish Strong
The Iowa State Cyclones had a decent year overall as they went 7-5 and knocked off highly ranked Iowa and TCU along the way, but they did not finish all that strong as they lost three of their final four games to end the regular season. They still played well as they lost by just seven to Oklahoma state and just one to Kansas State, but still, it was not the finish they were hoping for. This should be a good matchup as it will pit a very solid ISU defense against the high-powered Memphis offense. The Cyclones allowed 49 points to Oklahoma State, but that was the only game in their final seven games that the allowed more than 20 points. Their defense is good, but is it good enough to slow down this Memphis attack? We shall see. The offense has not been great this year, but they have been a solid passing team and the Tigers have been very poor on the defensive side of the ball, especially their pass defense, which is 123rd in the nation. Kyle Kempt took over at QB in mid-season and he has been solid for the Cyclones so far as he has hit 66.8% of his passes for 1473 yards with 13 TDs and just three INTs. His first career start was in the Oklahoma game and he beat them 38-31 in that game while throwing for 343 yards against them. He could have a good game in this one, especially with all the extra prep time and he will need to have a good game as the Memphis offense figures to get their points.
Iowa State has been a below average offensive team this year as they come into this game ranked 76th in the nation in total offense (390.2 ypg), 32nd in passing (269.5 ypg), 112th in rushing (120.8 ypg) and 53rd in scoring at 29.9 ppg. On defense, they have been solid as they come in ranked 46th in total yards allowed (368.4 ypg), 81st against the pass (234.2 ypg) and 31st vs the run (134.2 ypg), while allowing just 21.0 ppg, which is 28th in the nation.
Memphis Loses Wild AAC Title Game
The Memphis Tigers really had a wild season overall as their games have averaged 81.1 ppg on the year, which is in dark contrast to the 50.9 ppg that Iowa State’s games have averaged. That makes for an interesting game. The Tiger come in off a wild AAC Title game, in which they lost by a score of 62-55 in OT. The Tigers rolled up 753 yards of total offense in the game and were led by QB Riley Ferguson, who hit 30 of 42 passes for 471 yards with four TDs and an INT. He has had a very strong season as he hit 63% of his passes for 3971 yards with 36 TDs and just nine INTs and he is going up against the 81st ranked pass defense in the nation, so he could have a good game tonight. The Tigers can also run the ball and they had 282 yards on the ground against the Golden Knights. Darrell Henderson led the ground game with 109 yards and a TD and has now rushed for 1161 yards and nine TDs on the year. Also having a good game on the ground was Patrick Taylor Jr., who had 107 yards and a TD and has now rushed for 807 yards and 13 TDs on the year. This offense is so tough to stop as they have too many weapons on it. The defense is another story and it has been bad this year. They allowed 726 yards in the loss to UCF, including 494 yards through the air. The Cyclones are a good passing team, so Memphis may give up some big plays in this one.
The Tigers have been very good on offense this year as they come in ranked 4th in the nation in total offense (548.2 ypg), 8th in passing (339.1 ypg), 31st in rushing (201.9 ypg) and 2nd in scoring at 47.7 ppg. On defense, they have been very poor as they come in ranked 121st in total yards allowed (476.3 ypg), 123rd against the pass (279.4 ypg) and 100th vs the run (196.8 ypg), while allowing 33.4 ppg, which is 104th in the nation.
Iowa State is:
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game
- 1-5 ATS in their last six neutral site games
- 5-1 ATS in their last six games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight-up loss
The Iowa State Cyclones had a solid early part of the year, which included wins over Oklahoma and TCU, who were both highly-ranked at the time of the games, but they have struggled some down the stretch as they have won just one of their final four games. The best offense they faced over that stretch was the Oklahoma State offense and they allowed 49 points in that game. Now they will take on one of the best offenses in the league and I look for them to struggle to stop the Tigers in this one. They are 81st in the nation against the pass and the Tigers are 8th in the nation in passing. The Cyclones will get their points against a very bad Memphis defense, but not enough to cover or win the game.
Pick: Memphis -3.5
This should be a very interesting game as Iowa State games have averaged just 50.9 ppg, while Memphis games have averaged 81.1 ppg. The Tigers are one of the best offensive teams in the nation and while the Cyclones did allow 20 points or less in five of their last six games, the one they didn’t was against Oklahoma State as they allowed 49 points in that game. I look for the Tigers to do a lot of damage against this defense. The Cyclones have not been a great offensive team this year, but they pass the ball well and the Tigers are 123rd in the nation against the pass. This game has all the makings of a shootout and I will expect at least 70 points to be scored in this one. The clincher is the fact that the Over is 10-2 in Memphis’ last 12 vs. a team with a winning record.