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The SERVPRO First Responder Bowl will be played in Dallas, Texas at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. Don’t try to make sense of all those words – bowl games are meant to be the most confounding assortment of words possible thrown together in one name. It’s a matchup between Memphis and Utah State, two teams with pretty average seasons that finished the year at 6-6 and just enough won to get a game after the regular season. The game’s going to be a tight one. Memphis is by no means a bad squad, but they proved that when it comes to playing truly good college football teams, they don’t have what it takes to pull out a win. Their offense is fun to watch, though, and it’s proven throughout the season that when they play a team they should beat, they will. With head coach Ryan Silverfield’s job somewhat uncertain in the coming year, winning this game would pretty much secure his employment in the 2023 season. Utah State started the year off with a rough 1-4, but they went 5-2 to finish the year on a strong run. Even with that momentum, though, it’ll be tough to get an offense that relied heavily on Calvin Tyler, who opted out to prepare for his inevitable NFL drafting going into the bowl game. Both teams are looking to repeat their bowl game wins from the 2021 season and finish the year on a strong note.
Utah State is missing some of its biggest backfield elements for this matchup, which means that it will be up to the offensive line to give plays time to develop and really open up the run game if they want to beat Memphis. Defensively, takeaways will be the biggest factor in Utah State’s game plan. Memphis fell apart a few times throughout the season when turnovers happened, and if Utah State wants to make up for missing pieces, forced fumbles and interceptions will have to be the name of their defensive strategy. On the Memphis side, they’ll still have veteran QB Seth Henigan starting, and they should be good for at least 250 yards of offense, which would be enough for a victory if their defense can hold Utah State’s ground game to a minimum. Utah State hasn’t been great on third down conversions this year, which means that if the run game doesn’t get going (Memphis has only allowed over 130 yards rushing four times this season), the Memphis defense will be in good shape to keep the Aggies offense off the field. Utah State is simply missing too many pieces in this matchup. The Aggies won’t give up easily, but Memphis shouldn’t have any difficulty winning this game through the air. Take the Memphis money-line as your risk free bet from FanDuel!