Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-1, Sunbelt) vs Memphis Tigers (1-1, 1-0 American)
Time and Date: 7:00 PM ET, September 17
Broadcast Network: ESPN+
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium - Memphis, TN
ESPN FPI: Memphis, 73.8%
Line: Memphis -14*
Point Total: 63*
All-Time Series: Memphis leads the all-time series against Arkansas State, 31-23-5
Last Meeting: Memphis 55, Arkansas State 50 - September 11, 2021
Current Streak: Memphis, 3 (2013-2021)
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Memphis came into their game against Navy with heavy hearts. Their disappointing Week 1 loss against Mississippi State was quickly contextualized as a wave of violence took over the city. Eliza Fletcher, a former Memphis student-athlete, was abducted across the street from the university and was confirmed dead last week. While the community was still reeling, campus activities were interrupted as an active shooter traveled across Memphis and killed four innocent civilians and injured three more on the Wednesday prior to their game against Navy.
Motivated to provide a welcomed distraction for their city and redeem themselves after a tough loss, the Tigers delivered. Seth Henigan threw for 415 yards, two TDs, and avoided turning the ball over as Memphis beat Navy 37-13. However, the game was still up for grabs at the half where Memphis only held a slim 13-7 lead. Memphis forced a three and out after the Midshipmen received the second half kick. On the Tigers’ first offensive play of the half, Henigan threw a 79-yard bomb to Joe Scates to stretch the lead 20-7. The Tigers would never look back from there.
The Tigers’ defense was also much improved after giving up 500 yards of offense and 49 points against Mississippi State. Memphis shut down the Navy’s triple option only allowing one rushing TD and 215 yards on 58 carries. However, Memphis notably went from defending the Air Raid to the Triple Option. Now, they will have to face a traditional spread offense.
Meanwhile, Butch Jones and the Red Wolves are hoping to regroup after a trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State. While the final score was 45-12, Arkansas State outperformed expectations for a majority of the first half. Arkansas State put together a 14-play, seven-minute drive during the second quarter before they settled for a field goal inside the Buckeyes 20-yard line. This trimmed OSU’s lead to eight points. While the Red Wolves got within one score, it was the last time the game was competitive as the Buckeyes went for 28 unanswered points.
This game was essentially the opposite of their Week 1 demolition job of FCS Grambling State where Arkansas State won 58-3. The opening week win was competitive for less than 10 minutes before the Red Wolves were up two scores. Ultimately, Butch Jones and Co. are still likely looking for answers about their own team.
The new look offense is lead by several talented transfers. The former Florida State QB, James Blackman, has showed flashes. While Blackman didn’t get a passing TD against the Buckeyes, he notably avoided turning the ball over and had nearly 200 yards through the air. The best offensive play of the afternoon was a throw to Oregon State graduate transfer WR, Champ Flemings. Flemings put a smooth double move on the Freshmen All-American CB Denzel Ward and put on the afterburners for a 58-yard gain. Flemings finished the game with 105 yards receiving.
Champ Flemings cooks Denzel Burke pic.twitter.com/y2HSltZfRU— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) September 10, 2022
On the defensive side of the ball, there are even more unknowns for the Red Wolves. Holding an FCS team to 100 yards of total offense and three points is good. Forcing Ohio State to have two three-and-outs and 17 points through 25 minutes on the road is also good. However, Ohio State did eventually break through and scored four more touchdowns over the remaining 35 minutes. Ultimately, every team remaining on the Red Wolves schedule is more talented than Grambling State but less talented than Ohio State. After facing Memphis, Arkansas State fans will have a lot better idea of the potential of their team.
In what I expect to be a competitive game, Memphis have the homefield advantage and additional motivation that should make the difference. The Tigers take this one 34 - 27.