Arkansas State at Memphis - 9/5/20 College Football Picks and Prediction
Photo by Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Arkansas State Red Wolves (0-0) at Memphis Tigers (0-0)
College Football: Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 8:00 pm (Liberty Bowl Memorial)
The Line: Memphis Tigers -19 -- Over/Under: 72 Click Here for the Latest Odds
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The Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Memphis Tigers meet in college football action from the Liberty Bowl Memorial on Saturday.
The Arkansas State Red Wolves come into the 2020 season looking to take another step forward in the Sun Belt, finishing the year with an 8-5 overall record, including a 5-3 mark in Sun Belt conference play to finish in second in the Sun Belt West division and thus earning a spot in the Camellia Bowl, a game that saw A-State emerge victorious over FIU by a final score of 34-28. The first order of business for the Red Wolves is officially determining their starting QB with Layne Hatcher back after stepping up to threw for almost 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 66% of his passes. The problem there is that Logan Bonner is back to retake his starting position under center for the Red Wolves, so it will be interesting to see which route head coach Blake Anderson decides to go heading into the matchup against Memphis. Jonathan Adams is expected to be the top receiver in the Red Wolves offense after logging 62 catches for 851 yards last season with 5 touchdowns which will help soften the blow of losing Omar Bayless and Kirk Merritt who combined for 162 catches last season. Marcel Murray is also back to lead the Arkansas State backfield after rushing for 820 yards and 6 touchdowns but also expect to see Ryan Graham and Isaiah Azubuike in the mix in the backfield for Arkansas State as well. Defensively, the Red Wolves were one of the worst teams in the nation last year in terms of defending the run and losing the top three tacklers doesn’t help, including William Bradley-King who transferred to Baylor. The good news is that Kennan Solomon is transferring in to make a difference right away for Arkansas State. Antonio Fletcher will lead the secondary after logging 58 tackles last year while Caleb Bonner is expected to be the anchor for the linebackers. Only time will tell if the Red Wolves can keep the pace going and get back to trending upwards this season.
The Memphis Tigers will try to replicate their success from the 2019 season, a season that saw Memphis finish with a 12-2 overall record, including a 7-1 record in AAC play to finish at the top of the AAC West division tied with Navy but receiving a spot in the title game thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Midshipmen. The Tigers defeated Cincinnati in the AAC championship game by a final score of 29-24 before losing to Penn State in the Cotton Bowl Classic by a final count of 53-39. Ryan Silverfield takes over the reins as head coach here, and he has quite the offense still at his disposal with Brady White returning at QB after logging over 4,000 yards with 33 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. White loses his top deep threat for this season in Antonio Gibson, but Damonte Coxie returns after leading the Tigers with 76 grabs for just under 1,300 yards and 9 touchdowns. The drawback for Memphis now is that running back Kenneth Gainwell has opted out of the 2020 season citing personal reasons after losing four different family members to COVID-19, which is perfectly understandable. From an on-field perspective, it’s a loss for the Tigers as Gainwell had 2,069 all-purpose yards, with 1,459 rushing yards and 51 catches for 610 yards this season. Luckily, the Tigers have Kylan Watkins and Asa Martin waiting in the wings to get their turn to carry the ball for Memphis. Defensively, Memphis has the potential to keep on their upward trajectory after making a solid improvement in 2019. Joseph Dorecus and Everitt Cunningham are back to lead the defensive pass rush for the Tigers while the group of Xavier Cullens, Tim Hart, Tim Pickens and JJ Russell all return to bolster Memphis’ linebacking group. In the secondary, new defensive coordinator Mike McIntyre has a pair of strong defensive backs in Sanchez Blake and Quindell Johnson, with Blake logging 69 stops for Memphis last season. Time will only tell if Memphis’ strong year last year was simply an aberration or if Memphis is once again a legitimate threat in the AAC.
Arkansas State is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games overall while the over is 4-1 in their last 5 road games. Memphis is 2-4-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall and 12-5-1 ATS in their last 18 home games while the over is 8-3 in their last 11 games overall.
I completely agree with Memphis being favored here as they bring back a lot of pieces from that high-octane offense from last season. However, this is nearly three touchdowns against an Arkansas State team that still has a bunch of talent that hung around with SMU in the non-conference portion of their schedule while also scoring at least 30 points in 10 of 13 games last season and while Memphis will try to turn this game into a track meet, this just feels like a game where the Red Wolves sneak in and cover, losing the game by 17 points or something like that. I’ll take my chances with Arkansas State and the points and I’ll also side with the over here as I see this one hitting the total no problem.