Louisiana Monroe Warhawks (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U) vs. Memphis Tigers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U)
NCAAF: Thursday, August 31, 2017, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee, 9 pm ET
Spread: Memphis -27, Over/Under: 67
It’s a non-conference matchup between mid-major programs down in Bluff City. The Louisiana Monroe Warhawks open up their 2017 schedule on the road as they face the Memphis Tigers Thursday night. Louisiana Monroe struggled to a 4-8 campaign in 2016 and failed to qualify for a bowl game. Memphis finished 8-5 in 2016 but was dumped 51-31 by Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl to finish the season. Memphis took the previous meeting between the teams, claiming a 28-0 whitewash victory at home on September 9, 2000.
Louisiana Monroe Warhawks Hope to Contend in Sun Belt
Louisiana Monroe had their issues last season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Warhawks gave up at least 34 points in each games last season with four of those contests seeing the opposition put up at least 51 points. The lone road win that Louisiana Monroe picked up last season was a 37-23 win over Georgia State: four of their six road defeats came by at least 41 points. The Warhawks’ also lost by 25 points against Appalachian State on the road: their lone close road contest was a two point defeat to Georgia State.
Garrett Smith (103 of 179, 1237 yards, 9 TD, 7 INT, 308 rushing yards, 3 TD) saw the majority of the reps under center last season. He’s back, as are Caleb Evans (76 of 144, 834 yards, four TD, six INT, 163 rushing yards, TD) and Will Collins (19 of 40, 233 yards, two TD, three INT, 105 rushing yards), meaning all three guys could see action. Ben Luckett (120 carries, team high 450 yards, 5 TD) and Thomas Koufie (84 carries, 430 yards, 9 TD) are the top two backs in the run game. Marcus Green (team leading 36 receptions, 344 yards, 4 TD), Xavier Brown (25 grabs, 425 yards, 4 TD), RJ Turner (23 catches, team high 433 yards, three TD) provide experienced targets in the passing game. Craig Ford (35 of 36 extra points, 9 of 13 field goals, long of 48 yards) is back to man the kicking game.
Memphis Tigers Shoot for Successful 2017 Campaign
Memphis rode their offensive assault to eight wins last season, including a 5-3 record in the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers have to tighten up a bit defensively as they allowed at least 42 points in six games last season. Memphis scored at least 30 points in three of their five losses and put up 28 points in each of their other two defeats. An easy schedule at the start of last season allowed the Tigers to start the season 3-0 and then 5-1 before dropping three of their next four games. Memphis won their final two regular season games before losing to Western Kentucky.
Riley Ferguson (280 of 443, 3698 yards, 32 TD, 10 INT), who had a big year last season for the Tigers, is back for his senior season under center. Doroland Dorceus (132 carries, team high 810 yards, 9 TD) is back for his senior year as the lead back. He’ll get plenty of help from Patrick Taylor Jr. (93 carries, 546 yards, 2 TD) and Darrell Henderson (87 carries, 482 yards, 5 TD) in the run game as well. Senior wide receiver Anthony Miller (team high 95 grabs, team high 1434 yards, 14 TD) is back as Ferguson’s top target in the passing game. Phil Mayhue (42 receptions, 677 yards, 4 TD), running back Tony Pollard (29 catches, 298 yards, two TD) and Henderson (20 grabs, 237 yards, 3 TD) are going to be looked at to contribute for Memphis as well. Jake Elliott (58/58 XP, 21/26 FG, long of 50) is gone, which means Spencer Smith and Riley Patterson will compete for the kicking job.
- Warhawks are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in August
- Tigers are 16-6-1 ATS in their last 23 non-conference games
The Warhawks were weak defensively last season and things aren’t that much more impressive from what we’ve seen this spring and summer. Having to deal with a Memphis team that can pile up the yards and points is going to be a major test for Louisiana Monroe. Ferguson was explosive last season under center and having Miller to throw to means the Tigers should be prolific on offense again. Louisiana Monroe doesn’t have the weapons to keep things in check: give the points and take the Tigers at home in this one.