(10/7/22) 7:00 PM Eastern.
Spread: Houston +2.5 / Memphis +2.5
Moneyline: Houston +115 / Memphis -135
Total: Over / Under 57.5
The Houston Cougars and Memphis Tigers of the American Athletic Conference face off in a battle of the cats. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30p.m. eastern time at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
The Cougars are off to an abysmal start, a team picked to contend for the AAC crown has largely underwhelmed. Starting QB Clayton Tune has regressed in just about every major offensive category but his TD to interception ratio has improved; 9:3. The ground game has been a major issue for Houston, they average just 3.92 yards per carry. WR Nathaniel Dell has picked up where he left off in 2021 though, he’s reeled in 33 passes for 453 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The defense has been the real problem. They’re surrendering an average of 408.4 yards per game and 34 points per game (2nd worst in the AAC). They’ve been torched through the air, allowing 273.6 passing yards a game (2nd worst in the AAC) and 12 passing touchdowns (worst). They have had some success getting to the QB, they have 14 sacks on the season. But they couldn’t even hold up last week in their 27-24 loss to Tulane’s 3rd string QB. Tulane’s 2nd string QB got hurt early in the game and their third stringer came in and threw for 3 touchdown passes.
After a loss to Mississippi State in their season opener, Memphis has rolled off 4 straight. The offense has been hot, averaging 37 points a game in their last 4. Sophomore QB Seth Henigan has been more efficient this season, completing 63.3% of his passes contrary to 59.8% last season. He’s also thrown just 1 interception to his 9 touchdowns. He does average nearly 50 yards less per game in 2022 but a weak Houston pass defense should pump that number up. He’s spread the ball out very well; 4 different receivers have 14 or more catches and 175+ yards receiving. Tight End Caden Prieskorn has been his go to guy in the Red Zone, he has 5 touchdown catches this season. Their rushing attack struggled to get going against Temple but Houston surrenders 134.8 rushing yards per game.
The Tigers defense has been okay but it’s gotten takeaways. They rank dead last in the AAC in passing yards allowed per game, 8th in total yards per game, but 3rd in rushing yards per game. It’s been the 12 takeaways that have led to victory, they 4 fumble recoveries and 8 interceptions. Outside of their thrashing by Mississippi State in week 1, this defense hasn’t really been tested. The 288 passing yards they’ve allowed per game is extremely concerning considering they’ve played a Navy team that runs the triple option, and a Temple team that ranks 196th in pass yards per game.
Houston/Memphis OVER 57.5. Neither of these defenses are very good. Houston’s defense ranks 2nd in the AAC in points allowed per game (34) and passing yards allowed (273.6). They’ve also let up 12 touchdown passes already which spells trouble against a team like Memphis that loves to spread the ball around. They couldn’t even stop Tulane’s 3rd string QB from throwing 3 touchdown passes last week and that game was at home. Now they’re tasked with stopping a Memphis offense that’s averaging over 37 points a game in it’s last 4. On the flip side Houston will be airing it out all night as well. Memphis’s pass defense is horrible, surrendering 288 passing yards a game and that includes games vs a Navy offense that runs Triple Option and a Temple offense that ranks 196th in passing yards per game. Houston has struggled to run the football and Memphis’s run defense ranks 3rd in the American, Houston will pass early and often. After a sluggish start this is almost a must win for Dana Holmgreen and the Cougars, QB Clayton Tune and WR Nathaniel Dell have yet to have their big game, that changes tonight. The Over is also 4-1 the last 5 times these two have met. For Houston the Over’s 4-1 their last 5 overall, 19-7 last 26 vs teams with a winning record, and 18-7-1 their last 26 road games. For Memphis the Over is 5-1 their last 6 overall and 9-3 their last 12 games vs teams with a losing record.