Memphis vs. Penn State - 12/28/19 College Football Cotton Bowl Classic Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Photo by Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Tigers (12-1) at Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)
College Football: Saturday, December 28, 2019 at 12:00 pm (AT&T Stadium)
The Line: Penn State Nittany Lions -7 -- Over/Under: 60.5
The Penn State Nittany Lions and the Memphis Tigers meet in college football action from AT&T Stadium as part of the 2019 Cotton Bowl.
The Penn State Nittany Lions enter this game representing the Big Ten conference after finishing the year with a 10-2 overall record, including a 7-2 mark in Big Ten conference play, good for 2nd in the Big Ten East division. Sean Clifford has thrown for 2,521 yards, 22 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 59.5% passing while Journey Brown leads the Nittany Lions in rushing with 688 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. KJ Hamler leads the Nittany Lions in receiving with 54 catches for 858 yards and 8 touchdowns while Pat Freiermuth and Jahan Dotson each had 468 and 462 receiving yards respectively, with Freiermuth logging 7 receiving TDs. Defensively, Micah Parsons led Penn State with 95 total tackles while Yetur Gross-Matos added a team-high 8.5 sacks. As a team, Penn State is averaging 403.7 yards of total offense and 34.3 points per game while allowing 330.5 yards of total defense and 14.1 points per game against this season.
The Memphis Tigers come into the Cotton Bowl as the representative out of the AAC, finishing the year with a 12-1 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in AAC conference play to finish tied atop the West division and earning their spot in the conference championship game thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker with Navy. The Tigers won the AAC conference championship game, defeating Cincinnati in back-to-back weeks, this time with a 29-24 victory to hoist the trophy. Brady White threw for 3,560 yards, 33 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on 64.2% passing while Kenneth Gainwell led the Tigers on the ground with 1,425 yards and 12 touchdowns. Damonte Coxie led Memphis in receiving with 68 catches for 1,144 yards and 9 touchdowns while Antonio Gibson had 636 receiving yards and Kedarian Jones and the aforementioned Gainwell each had 500+ receiving yards for Memphis this season. Defensively, Austin Hall led the Tigers with 69 total tackles while Bryce Huff had a team-high 6 sacks this season. As a team, Memphis is averaging 480.7 yards of total offense and 40.5 points per game while allowing 372.3 yards of total defense and 24.4 points per game against this season.
Penn State is 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 non-conference games and 20-9-2 ATS in their last 31 games against a team with a winning record while the over is 4-0 in their last 4 neutral site games. Memphis is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 bowl games and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games while the over is 10-2 in their last 12 games as an underdog.
Part of me feels wrong leaving this many points on the table with Memphis, but I still personally have questions about the strength of the AAC this season. I mean side-by-side, I think the Big Ten is the way tougher conference and it’s not close and Penn State still made it out with ten wins and just 2 losses. Both teams are balanced and Memphis has been better offensively, but I don’t think the Tigers will be able to execute the way they have been against this Penn State defense, and I just think that is the difference here as the Nittany Lions win and cover in this one.