College Football Miami Beach Bowl Betting Preview: BYU Cougars vs Memphis Tigers

2014 Miami Beach Bowl
Brigham Young Cougars vs Memphis Tigers

Marlins Park – Miami, Florida
Monday, December 22, 2014, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Memphis pick
Current Line: Memphis -2
Opening Total: 57 1/2
Current Total: 56 1/2
Opening Money Line: Memphis -110 / BYU -110
Current Money Line: Memphis -130 / BYU +110

BYU and Memphis meet in the Miami Beach Bowl Monday afternoon.
BYU and Memphis meet in the Miami Beach Bowl Monday afternoon.

The inaugural Miami Beach Bowl matches the 8-4 Brigham Young University Cougars and 9-3 Memphis Tigers Monday afternoon. This is the first ever meeting between the schools. BYU is independent and sandwiched four game winning streaks around a four game losing streak. Memphis went 7-1 in the American Athletic Conference and shared the title with Central Florida and Cincinnati. It was the first conference title for Memphis since 1971 when they were in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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BYU is coached by Bronco Mendenhall. The Cougars are 13-18-1 all time in bowl games. BYU is making their 10th straight bowl appearance dating back to 2005. The Cougars lost last year to Washington 31-16 in the Fight Hunger Bowl to snap a 4 game winning streak in bowls.

BYU has home losses to Utah State 35-20 and Nevada 42-35, along with road losses to Central Florida 31-24 in overtime and Boise State 55-30. The Cougars have won 4 straight games. BYU has home wins over Houston 33-25, Virginia 41-33, UNLV 42-23, and Savannah State 64-0, plus road wins over Connecticut 35-10, Texas 41-7, Middle Tennessee 27-7, and California 42-35 in the regular season finale. The Cougars are 5-7 ATS and the total is 8-4 this season. BYU was a 3 point underdog against Cal and the total was 71.5.

Memphis is coached by Justin Fuente. The Tigers are 3-3 all-time in bowl games. Memphis has lost 2 straight bowl games including 41-14 to South Florida in the 2008 St. Petersburg Bowl.

Memphis has road losses at UCLA 42-35, Ole Miss 24-3, and Houston 28-24. The Tigers have won six straight games. Memphis has home wins over Austin Peay 63-0, Middle Tennessee 36-17, Tulsa 40-20, South Florida 31-20 and Connecticut 41-10 in the regular season finale, along with road wins over Cincinnati 41-14, SMU 48-10, Temple 16-13 and Tulane 38-7. Memphis is 7-4-1 ATS and the total is 7-5 this season. The Tigers were 24 point favorites against UConn and the total was 44.

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BYU is outscoring teams 36-25 this season. BYU is #20 in scoring and #56 in points allowed.  The Cougars are averaging 463 yards per game including 272 passing and 191 rushing yards per game. The Cougars are #42 or better in all three categories. BYU is allowing 384 yards per game on defense, including 267 passing and 118 rushing yards. BYU is #14 nationally in rush defense and #113 in pass defense nationally. The Cougars have forced 21 turnovers and allowed 23 this season. BYU is averaging 82 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 62. The Cougars are 96/206 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 91/229. BYU has allowed 25 sacks and forced 34 sacks. The Cougars are 49/56 scoring in the red zone with 40 touchdowns, and opponents are 36/43 with 26 touchdowns. BYU has a kickoff return for a touchdown and a pick six.

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill was putting up some early Heisman like numbers before breaking his leg. Hill had completed 66.7% of his passes for 975 yards with 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and has also rushed for 460 yards on 87 carries with 8 touchdowns. Christian Stewart took over for Hill against Utah State, and has started the last 7 games. Stewart has completed 58.7% of his passes for 2,273 yards with 22 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 71 carries for 174 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Running back Jamaal Williams has 109 carries for 518 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 8 catches. He is also out for the season with a torn ACL. Paul Lasike has 72 carries for 353 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 24 catches for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nate Carter, Algernon Brown and Adam Hine will also get some carries. Hine has 2 rushing touchdowns, a receiving touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Receiver Mitch Mathews has 64 catches for 840 yards and 8 touchdowns.   Jordan Leslie has 54 catches for 756 yards and 5 touchdowns. Mitchell Juergens, Colby Pearson and Devin Mahina each have 3 touchdown catches. Pearson is out for the season with a broken collarbone.

Memphis is outscoring teams 35-17 this season. The Tigers are #29 in scoring and #5 in points allowed nationally. Memphis averages 423 yards per game on offense including 231 passing and 192 rushing yards. On defense, the Tigers are allowing 343 yards per game including 218 passing and 125 rushing yards. Memphis is #22 in total defense and #24 in rush defense nationally. The Tigers are +12 in turnovers with 27 takeaways. Memphis averages 61 penalty yards per game and opponents average 63. Memphis is 75/198 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 77/207. The Tigers have forced 28 sacks and allowed 15 this season. Memphis is 50/53 scoring in the red zone with 35 touchdowns and opponents are 19/29 with 14 touchdowns. The Tigers have 4 defensive touchdowns this season.

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch has completed 64% of his passes for 2,725 yards with 18 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 100 carries for 283 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running back Brandon Hayes has 174 carries for 900 yards with 5 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 84 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jarvis Cooper has 70 catches for 360 yards and 4 touchdowns. Sam Craft has 82 catches for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 15 catches for 83 yards. Running back Doroland Dorceus had 4 rushing touchdowns but is out for the season with a broken leg.

Receiver Keiwone Malone has 39 catches for 480 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mose Frazier has 43 catches for 475 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tevin Jones has 33 catches for 442 yards and 3 touchdowns. Alan Cross has 25 catches for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns. Roderick Proctor has 25 catches for 245 yards.

BYU is 5-1 ATS in December and in neutral site games, 4-1 in bowl games, 3-7 after a straight up win, in non-conference games, and overall, 2-5 against teams with winning records, and after allowing more than 450 total yards, 1-5 after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 1-6 on grass, and 1-7-1 ATS after gaining more than 450 total yards.

Memphis is 5-1-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 12-3-1 in non-conference games, 1-3-1 after allowing less than 20 points, 5-17 after scoring more than 40 points, 1-4 in December and in neutral site games, 3-13 on grass, and 0-3-1 after a cover.

BYU overcame injuries to Hill and Williams, their two best offensive players to get here. Memphis has been a great story as they weren’t expected to compete for the AAC title. The Tigers rely on an opportunistic defense that creates sacks and turnovers. Opposing teams have only entered the red zone 29 times against Memphis this season and that is remarkable. I think the Tigers win a close shootout.

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