Memphis vs Western Kentucky Boca Raton Bowl Lines, Free Pick & TV Info
When: Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7 PM ET
Where: FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton
Opening College Football Lines: WKU -6.5 (80)
Why Bet on Memphis?Under first-year head coach Mike Norvell, the Tigers posted an 8-4 overall record and a 5-3 American Athletic Conference mark. Memphis tied for third in The American’s West Division.
The Tigers closed the regular season with an impressive 48-44 win over a Houston team that beat Top-10 teams Oklahoma and Louisville during the season. Riley Ferguson threw a 10-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left in a wild fourth quarter. The teams combined to score 31 fourth-quarter points. Ferguson took over after Paxton Lynch departed for the NFL and played well, throwing for 3,326 yards, 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His favorite target was Anthony Miller, who had a huge year with 84 receptions for 1,283 yards and 11 touchdowns. They go against a Western Kentucky defense that was 110th in the nation against the pass (268.7 ypg).
The Tigers are making their first appearance in the Boca Raton Bowl and their third bowl visit to the state of Florida. Memphis also made trips to the Sunshine State for bowls in 2008 (St. Petersburg Bowl) and 2015 (Miami Beach Bowl).
It is the third consecutive season Memphis is playing in a bowl game, as the Tigers traveled to the Miami Beach Bowl in 2014 and Birmingham Bowl in 2015. It is only the second time in program history Memphis has played in three-straight bowls.
Why Bet on WKU?The Hilltoppers (10-3) won the Conference USA Championship Game for a second year in a row, this time beating Louisiana Tech 58-44. Anthony Wales rushed for 209 yards and four touchdowns, and Mike White threw for 421 and three more scores. The Hilltoppers (10-3) and Bulldogs, who won the regular-season matchup 55-52 on Oct. 6, combined for 1,163 yards of total offense in the highest scoring championship game in C-USA history
The Hilltoppers are in the awkward situation of playing for an interim coach in Nick Holt after Jeff Brohm left for Purdue. New coach Mike Sanford from Notre Dame won’t take over until after the bowl game.
Brohm was the architect of the great Western Kentucky offense. They rank No. 2 nationally in scoring offense (45.1), No. 5 in passing offense (336.8), and No. 7 in total offense (517.4). WKU has also been stout up on defense, leading C-USA in scoring defense (24.1) and rush defense (99.1), the fourth-best mark nationally against the run.
White threw for over 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns as he replaced Brandon Doughty. His favorite target was Taywan Taylor, who had 89 catches for 1,586 yards. Wales became the workhorse in the backfield and rushed for 1,376 yards and 24 touchdowns (second in the nation). For the first time in FBS history, the Hilltoppers have produced a 4,000-yard career receiver (Taylor, 4,090 yards), a 3,000-yard receiver (Norris, 3,026 yards) and a 3,000-yard rusher (Wales, 3,097 yards). No team in FBS history has ever had three players active at the same time hit those milestones.
It will be the third consecutive bowl game for WKU and fourth in the last five years. WKU has reached bowl eligibility in six consecutive seasons, the longest active streak in C-USA and are one of just 17 teams to have bowl victories in 2014 and 2015. It will be the 27th postseason game for the program where the Toppers are 16-10 all-time.