Memphis at UConn
Friday, 4 pm PT - ESPN
CRIS Opener: Memphis -14 O/U 70
CRIS Current: Memphis -13.5 O/U 72
Things have not broken right for Memphis in the early going. The Tigers played their opening game against Louisiana-Monroe in the midst of the remnants of Hurricane Harvey – a torrential downpour throughout most of the contest. They had to cancel their game the next week because of Hurricane Irma in Florida. Following the wild upset win over UCLA, the Tigers looked flat against Southern Illinois the following week. Last week, facing UCF, the Tigers got whipped, turning the ball over four times on offense while allowing more than 600 yards on defense.
Make no mistake about it – Memphis is loaded with the type of skill position talent that UConn can’t cover. With QB Riley Ferguson returning for his senior year, 103 career starts back on the offensive line and the likes of RB’s Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor (combined more than 6.5 yards per carry) WR’s Anthony Miller, Phil Mayhue and Tony Pollard (37 catches between them) and TE Joey Magnifico (2nd leading receiver), this team is flat out loaded with weapons. Memphis averaged 39 points per game last year and 40 ppg in 2015. They hung 41 on UConn the last time these teams met, and there’s little reason to think the Tigers won’t approach or exceed 40 this time around.
UConn’s defense has been horrific this season. Head coach Randy Edsall called out his team’s toughness prior to the Huskies visit to SMU last Saturday: “Sometimes guys either have it or they don’t. I mean, that’s ‘here,'” Edsall said, pointing to his chest. “That’s what you’ve got in here, and it shows up real quick in this sport. If you’re not a physically tough kid, this isn’t the sport you should play.” The end result? One week after allowing 596 yards and 41 points to East Carolina, last week, the Huskies allowed 49 points and 498 yards to the Mustangs. This is not a defense primed for a dramatic improvement anytime soon.
That leaves us with only one question: Can UConn trade points with a potent offense? If the Huskies can’t, the right play here is on Memphis. If the Huskies can, the better play would probably be on the Over. UConn has a returning senior starter at QB in Bryant Sherriffs, who has completed 69% of his passes so far with an 8:2 TD-INT ratio. Five different receivers have caught a TD pass of 45 yards or longer; an offense showing legit big play ability after averaging a woeful 15 points per game last year. They’re playing much faster than last year in coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s first season running the offense, and they’re facing a defense that has shown repeated vulnerability. Expect enough offense from the Huskies to keep this game relatively competitive and to send it flying over the total. Expect a shootout.