Teams playing their bowl games on their home fields are 2-0 both straight up and against the spread so far this bowl season, with Florida Atlantic and Navy picking up easy win/covers. The Memphis Tigers hope to add to that trend when they take on Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis (12:30 pm ET, ABC).
Most of this year’s college bowl betting market opened Memphis at -3, with a total of right around 66. As of about 24 hours before kickoff most books had bumped the Tigers to -4.
Iowa State (7-5 SU, 10-1-1 ATS) started 2-2 this year, but it’s probably still kicking itself for blowing that game at rival Iowa. The Cyclones then announced themselves with four straight wins, starting with that stunning victory at eventual Big 12 champion and College Football Playoff qualifier Oklahoma and finishing with a victory over the other Big 12 championship game participant, TCU. Iowa State then lost back-to-back games to West Virginia and bowl-winning Oklahoma State, beat Baylor, then finished with a tough 20-19 loss at bowl-winning Kansas State.
So the Cyclones are back in a bowl for the first time since 2012.
Iowa State led the Wildcats in that season finale but gave up a touchdown on the final play of the game. The Cyclones outgained and outrushed K-State that day, but they’ve actually been outgained and outrushed five of their last nine times out.
Memphis (10-2 SU, 7-4-1 ATS), meanwhile, started 3-0 this season, with a win over UCLA, before losing to eventual AAC champion (and still undefeated) Central Florida. The Tigers then won seven more in a row, racking up some crazy offensive numbers along the way, to clinch a spot in the AAC championship game. Memphis then battled that same UCF outfit into double-overtime before succumbing 62-55.
So Memphis is 0-2 this season against the Knights, 10-0 against everybody else.
The Tigers are also playing in a bowl for the fourth straight season.
Memphis outgained and outrushed each of its last five opponents, including Central Florida.
By the Numbers
Iowa State ranks 75th in the country in total offense at 390 yards per game and 45th in total defense at 368 yards per game, all while playing what Sagarin at USAToday.com ranks as the 24th-toughest schedule.
Memphis ranks fourth in offense at 548 YPG but only 121st in defense at 476 YPG, while playing the 86th-toughest schedule.
Free College Football Bowl Pick
Memphis owns some gaudy offensive figures, but who did they play? Putting up 70 on East Carolina and Connecticut doesn’t mean much. On the other side of the ball they’re giving up almost 500 yards per game. Meanwhile, Iowa State has already gone up against several of the top offenses in the country. Regardless of the Tigers’ home-field advantage we’re taking the points with the Cyclones and their defense.