In a sense, Missouri and Memphis had similar losses last week. Each school tasted the promise of a competitive game against a legendary group, but watched as the inevitable other shoe dropped after that.
Mizzou, like many high-powered offenses facing the Crimson Tide, put up some points early and tried to contain Tua Tagovailoa as best as they could. But all it took was a few good breaks for Saban’s mercenaries to pounce and make the 2nd half largely academic.
This week’s visiting “Tigers” of Memphis went a whole 3 and a half quarters thinking they could knock off UCF. But when a rain storm worsened, hardy UCF supporters were just as loud as leftover Tiger alumni in the stands. Memphis is an excellent team at home but was left with no functional home-field advantage for what could have been one of the bigger games in program history…if they had only won.
Las Vegas has rarely handed down a clearer verdict on what the prediction for this contest should be. The extremely-high Over – Under total represents 2 well-respected passing games and 1 really, really good running back from Memphis. The 10-point margin represents a final score of Mizzou 42, Memphis 32.
Unless all bets vs the spread are pushes, 1 of the 2 teams will fare better than that. Who is it more likely to be?
Who: Memphis Tigers at Missouri Tigers
When: Saturday, October 20th, 1 PM EST
Where: Faurot Field, Columbia, MO
Lines: MEM (+10) at Mizzou (-10) / O/U Total: (74)
Points could be scored in heaping fashion in this match-up. Both teams love to throw, have big-play potential in the running game, and have suspect defenses that led to their demise against top-10 opponents.
Mizzou has now dropped 3 straight games to #2 Georgia, at South Carolina, and at #1 Alabama. In the Black & Gold’s defense, that was a brutal stretch that many, many teams would come out of 0-3. Thankfully, Mizzou has what a lot of teams don’t: a potential 1st round pick at QB in Drew Lock. Lock’s pure passing stats aren’t super impressive right now, but that’s after facing a Murderer’s Row of secondaries. He’s got plenty of TDs, and his program is doing better on the gridiron than it was in scandal-plagued eras past.
Missouri’s running game is on averaging only 4.4 yards per carry and the defense is giving up 30.5 points per game, 90th in the nation.
Memphis has been up and down all season – losses to Navy and Tulane do not look good on the squad’s 4-3 record, but last week’s near-upset of UCF has to be encouraging in some way. Against the #10 team in the country, Memphis held a 30-17 lead going into halftime. Clock management issues and penalties contributed to spoiling the Tigers’ chance to pull out a victory in the end:
The Knights trailed 30-14 with 2:04 left in the first half. The victory was by far the toughest game of the season for the Knights, who defeated their first five opponents by double-digits. Even in the closing seconds, Memphis (4-3, 1-3) seemed on the way to at least have a chance for a game-winning field goal as the Tigers moved to the UCF 31. Memphis botched clock management in the final 30 seconds, getting hit with a motion penalty that required a clock runoff. Then Brady White completed a 9-yard pass to Tony Pollard and the seconds slipped away. “Everybody was prepared and ready to go for this game,” White said. “It was just a matter of not finishing.”
Darrell Henderson, who leads the nation in rushing, had 199 yards and a touchdown on the ground on a career-best 31 carries for Memphis. It was the first meeting since last year’s American Athletic Conference championship game, which UCF won 62-55 in double overtime. McGowan’s scoring run in the third set the stage for Milton’s winning score, capping a 74-yard drive. Rainy conditions stalled the offenses in the second half. Memphis managed 151 yards in the second half, 54 on the futile game-ending drive. “We got off to a fast start, which we knew was necessary,” Memphis coach Mike Norvell said. “We really did a great job in the first half. Unfortunately, in the second half, we did things that cost you against a great football team.”
Memphis ran the ball for 281 yards against UCF, led by junior Darrell Henderson’s 199. Ultimately that’s how they’ve kept the chains moving all year. The Tigers are 5th nationally in rushing, and Henderson leads the entire nation with 1,133…and nobody else is close to his level of production, for all the hype around the Power-5.
As porous as the Mizzou defense rates in points, they’re actually pretty decent against the rush. The offensive line that can block the opposing DL has the chance to dominate the proceedings.
Finally, this is Mizzou’s Homecoming game. The hosts were embarrassed by a mid-major on Homecoming recently (MTSU) and may play with just a tad more emotion trying to stave-off another bummer.
It’s really up to the Mizzou coaching staff, but a run-first approach would be best in this one. Establish physical superiority on the inside, then let Lock open up naturally as the offense gets into a rhythm.
If Missouri does the right thing and smacks the Memphis defense head-on early, it will be a long night for the visitors on Homecoming in Columbia.
I like the Missouri Tigers to cover at home, but consider a bigger live bet on the home team if you see them handing the ball off a lot early.