Memphis Tigers @ Bowling Green Falcons
Start time: 3:00 PM EST, Saturday, Sept. 12th
Location: Doyt Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, OH
Radio: Memphis - AM 600; Bowling Green - 99.1 FM
Series Record: 0-1 (Bowling Green beat Memphis 52-35 in the 2004 GMAC Bowl)
Betting Line: Tigers -3.5 (80 1/2 O/U)
On This Date: The Tigers are 2-8 in games played on September 19th with wins against Stephen F. Austin and UT Martin and losses to Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Florida State, and Minnesota.
Three Keys to Memphis Victory:
Avoid a sluggish start
Last week in Lawrence the Tigers offense started off slow. Early turnovers led to a quick 10 point deficit. On Tuesday Memphis coach Justin Fuente was "furious" over his teams apparent lack of focus in practice and stated, "nothing" when asked what the Tigers did well. As the week has progress, Fuente's reports have gained in optimism for his teams focus. It is key that the Tigers highly important that the Tigers come out strong from the start of the game. You can afford sluggish starts against Missouri State and Kansas. However, if the Tigers dig a early hole against Bowling Green climbing out may be more difficult.
Control the clock/keep the ball out of Matt Johnson's hands
Bowling Green is going to score in this shootout of a game. At least that is the prevailing thought. The Falcons passing game has simply been on fire so far this season. Consider this, the Falcons quarterback, Matt Johnson, has completed nearly 61% of his passes for 915 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Johnson is having a storybook senior season to cap off a phenomenal collegiate career. The less time the Tigers, largely untested, secondary has to deal with Johnson, the better. The Tigers will be tasked with staying within their system while keeping their defense off the field.
Win two phases of the game
The focus on this game clearly will be the offensive display. Both Bowling Green and Memphis have very highly ranked offenses coming in to this game. Both offenses will be expected to score almost at will. So if we consider the offensive side of the game to be a toss up then the game, naturally, should come down to defense and special teams. Which defense gets that critical stop? Which teams return game puts their team in the best position to win?
To help determine which team has the edge I turned to ESPN and their team efficiency ranking. What I learned is that Bowling Green is largely carried by their offense. ESPN defines the team efficiency rankings as follows:
Team efficiencies are based on the point contributions of each unit to the team's scoring margin, on a per-play basis. The values are adjusted for strength of schedule and down-weighted for "garbage time" (based on win probability). The scale goes from 0 to 100; higher numbers are better and the average is roughly 50 for all categories. Efficiencies update daily during the season.
So lets compare the Tigers and Falcons defense and special teams:
|Defense Efficiency (ranking)||71.1% (42)||42.6% (92)|
|Special Teams Efficiency (ranking)||69% (35)||
Advantage clearly goes to Memphis but how much is fool's gold? Lets keep in mind that the Tigers biggest question mark leading in to the season was the Tigers defense. Although, on paper, one could argue that the Tigers defense has played well it is still a valid point to wonder if it was due to competition. To win the game the Tigers will need to solidify their identity on defense against a more formidable foe. This will be the week where we find out what the Tigers defense is made of.
Memphis - 45
Bowling Green - 38