Memphis takes on Tulane in an AAC battle on Friday from Yulman Stadium in New Orleans. The Tigers are 3-1 in 0-1 in the AAC after beating South Alabama last Saturday, 52-35. They’ve also won 11 straight home games and have now won 15 straight regular-season home non-conference games. The Green Wave were soundly beaten by Ohio State in Urban Meyer’s first game back from his suspension (49-6) from Columbus. Last season, Memphis handled Tulane, 56-26 at home and has all won 11 straight meetings.
Too close for comfort
Memphis beat South Alabama last week but it wasn’t easy. The Tigers were up 21-7 in the second quarter and then allowed two straight touchdowns from the Jaguars, who tied the game at 21-21 at the half. The Tigers were a 31-point home favorite but they were up by just one score late in the third quarter, when USA decided to go for it on fourth-and-two at the Memphis 8 rather than kick a field goal. But defensive tackle Joseph Dorceus stuffed running back Tra Minter for no gain and the Tigers went on to a 17-point win.
The good news for Memphis is their offensive firepower is elite led by running back Darrell Henderson, who rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 709 yards rushing with nine touchdowns and is averaging 12.2 yards per carry. Quarterback Brady White was efficient with 292 yards passing on 22 of 29 for two touchdowns. The 6-3 junior has put up big-time numbers with 1,064 passing yards with 12 TDs and just one pick (72.2%).
Through 4 weeks of football – Memphis RB Darrell Henderson is college football's highest-graded running back pic.twitter.com/I6M2kf0p1a
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 27, 2018
But the other side of the ball is where Memphis has the major issue. Allowing 35 points at home to South Alabama is never a good thing. Statistically, they aren’t bad, allowing 317.2 yards per game (24th) and 151 rushing yards per contest (65th). They’ve also done a solid job on third down defense (37.7%). But against USA, they were torched by quarterback Evan Orth, who picked on the secondary that was playing without safety La’Andre Thomas (shoulder). Orth wound up throwing for 360 yards and three touchdowns.
Tulane looks to get back in win column
It’s tough to judge a team after they face Ohio State. A middling team in the American Athletic Conference is going to have a tough time competing with the Buckeyes on the road and that’s what happened last Saturday in the 49-6 loss. OSU was never really threatened in this one as they jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and a lead of 42-6 at the half. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins completed 21 of 24 for 304 yards and five touchdowns just in the first half. Quarterback Tate Martell finished the game for Ohio State, who took the foot off the gas pedal and scored just seven points the rest of the way.
The Green Wave produced just 263 total yards and allowed 570 for the game. They also allowed 32 first downs and 4.0 yards per carry. On the season, they are allowing 4.26 yards per rushing attempt and 6.07 passing yards per attempt.
Head coach Willie Fritz said this was the best team he’s seen in his 26 years of coaching.
“I’ve played a lot of good teams over the years,” said Fritz, who has coached on multiple levels of college football before joining the FBS ranks with Georgia Southern in 2014. “That’s the best that I played. They’re big, long, physical, play the game the right way.
— Tulane Football (@GreenWaveFB) September 25, 2018
Quarterback Jonathan Banks has struggled with accuracy, completing just 49.5 percent of his passes for 792 yards with five touchdowns. The good news is that he’s thrown just one interception, though last season he completed 56.6 percent of his passes for 1,797 yards with 12 TDs and five picks. He also ran for 592 yards and seven scores, while this season, he’s rushed for just 43 yards on 45 carries with one TD. This season, his favorite target is wide receiver Darnell Mooney, who has 22 catches for 385 yards. He can use some help from a running game that has averaged just 136.1 yards per contest and 4.2 yards per attempt.
- 7-1 ATS last 8 home games.
- 6-2-1 ATS last 9 conference games.
- 1-10 ATS last 11 Friday games.
- 4-1 Over last 5 Friday games.
- 6-2 Over last 8 in September.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Tulane doesn’t match up with Ohio State; not many teams in FBS do. But they can match up with a Memphis team that gave up 35 points at home to South Alabama. They played UAB pretty tough on the road, falling 31-24 and beat FCS Nicholls State (42-17). Memphis won’t be easy but the Tigers’ defense isn’t strong enough to stop a team’s strength, whether it’s their ground game or rushing attack. The Green Wave have enough of both to make this a close game.
Prediction: Tulane +14
Full-Game Total Pick
It’s hard to figure a way to pick the under when Memphis is playing. Forget the defense, because they have White and Henderson, who could combine for five or six touchdowns on a normal day. Last year’s game combined for 82 points, which was well over the total of 62. The Tigers put up 52 points last week and 59 points against Georgia State. The only game they didn’t score 50 was against Navy mainly because the game was played in a downpour. They might not score 50 against Tulane but both teams will put up more than enough points for this one to go over.
Half-Time Side Pick
Have to be realistic here. I still hate Memphis’ defense, but they should be up by the half by at least 10 points. Their offense is just too explosive to stop but ultimately, I think Tulane covers the game.
Prediction: Memphis -7.5 first half
Half-Time Total Bet
This game is ultimately going to go over with ease. Last year, the score was 35-12 Memphis at the half. I think the game will be closer but the 47 points it not unrealistic.
Prediction: Over 34