Boca Raton Bowl Preview

Memphis Tigers vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Like offense? The Boca Raton Bowl is your game (Enter Contest). WKU averages 45.3 points a game, while Memphis isn’t far behind at 39.5. This matchup was slated to feature Jeff Brohm (WKU) and Mike Norvell (Memphis), two rising stars in the head coaching ranks. However, Brohm accepted the head coaching position at Purdue. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt will lead the Hilltoppers in this game.

WKU closed the season on a seven-game winning streak and scored at least 44 points in every contest during that run. Quarterback Mike White successfully replaced Brandon Doughty this year, throwing for 4,027 yards and 34 scores. He’s supported by standout running back Anthony Wales and two dynamic receivers (Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris). Quarterback Riley Ferguson (3,326 yards and 28 TDs) frequently targets Anthony Miller (84 catches), and the Tigers have three players with at least 460 rushing yards. This is the first meeting between these two programs.

ABOUT MEMPHIS (8-4, 5-3 AAC)

The Tigers had a tough task replacing head coach Justin Fuente and quarterback Paxton Lynch after last season but barely missed a beat behind new coach Mike Norvell and quarterback Riley Ferguson. Memphis won three of the last four games to improve its bowl position, including knocking off then-No. 20 Houston 48-44 in the regular-season finale. The Tigers average 39.5 points and rolled up 555 yards of total offense in the win over the Cougars.

Ferguson saved his best performance for last, passing for 409 yards with four TDs and no interceptions against Houston to cap a 3,326-yard season. Ferguson’s campaign places him second on the school’s all-time single-season throwing yards’ list. He’s just behind Lynch’s total of 3,776 from last season. Tigers freshman Tony Pollard was named the AAC’s Special Teams Player of the Year after ranking third in the nation with 993 kickoff return yards. He’s tied for third with two kickoff return TDs.

ABOUT WESTERN KENTUCKY (10-3, 7-1 C-USA)

Western Kentucky closed out the season on a seven-game winning streak, capped by a 58-44 victory over Louisiana Tech in the C-USA championship game. The Hilltoppers are second among FBS teams with a scoring average of 45.1 points. They’ve bumped that number up to 52.1 over the last nine contests. Western Kentucky is aiming for its third straight bowl win after knocking off Central Michigan 49-48 in the 2014 Bahamas Bowl and beating South Florida 45-35 in the 2015 Miami Beach Bowl.

The Hilltoppers’ offense is led by quarterback Mike White, who passed for 4,027 yards, 34 touchdowns and six interceptions while averaging 10.43 yards per attempt. Making White’s job easier is senior wide receiver Taywan Taylor. Taylor logged in 1,586 yards and caught 16 of those TD passes, including two in the C-USA championship game. Western Kentucky’s defense held three of its last five opponents under 10 points. They’ve recorded as many sacks (five) as rushing yards allowed against Louisiana Tech.

Posted in CFB

Temple (3-2) vs Memphis (3-1)

Fresh off its first loss of the season, host Memphis aims to regroup Thursday against resurgent Temple when the Owls visit the Tigers in an American Athletic Conference game (Enter contest). Memphis outscored its opponents 155-27 during a 3-0 start, but struggled in a 20-point loss at Ole Miss last week in its final non-conference tune-up.

ABOUT MEMPHIS

The Tigers’ defense allowed 624 yards while the team committed four turnovers and seven penalties against the Rebels. They’ve allowed a total of 10 points in their previous two games before surrendering 48 to Ole Miss, and now must contend with an Owls squad that has defeated them in two of the last three seasons. Memphis needs Riley Ferguson to have a bounce back game after the junior threw three interceptions without a touchdown pass last week, a stark contrast to his eight touchdowns and zero picks over the previous two outings. Wide receiver Anthony Miller had 157 total yards and a touchdown against the Rebels, while fellow junior Doroland Dorceus rushed for a score for the fourth straight game.

Memphis is averaging 45.8 points, which is sixth-best in the nation. Kicker Jake Elliott needs one point to tie DeAngelo Williams (362) for second place in school history and eight points to match Stephen Gostkowski (369) for top spot in the Tigers’ record books. The Tigers have not returned a kickoff for a touchdown in 233 consecutive games. It’s the longest active streak in the FBS.

ABOUT TEMPLE

The Owls faced plenty of issues themselves early in the season but have regrouped to win two straight behind 48- and 45-point performances. Although senior quarterback Philip Walker is looking to deliver a stronger effort this week, he went 7-of-18 for 124 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions last week against SMU.

Sophomore tailback Ryquell Armstead scored two touchdowns in his second straight game. He finished with 159 rushing yards against SMU. Senior Jahad Thomas also had a pair of rushing scores. It was his third straight game with two rushing TDs. He continues to work his way back from a hand injury that sidelined him for the first two games of the season. After recording a career-high 10 tackles against SMU, sophomore defensive back Delvon Randall will need a repeat performance versus the Tigers. Owls kicker Austin Jones is 8-for-8 in field goals (long of 45) and 21-for-21 on extra points this season.

Posted in CFB