For the second-straight year, the Memphis Tigers will open their season against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference. They will take on a familiar face in the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The game is a rematch from last year’s controversial finish that would allow the Tigers to leave the Liberty Bowl as winners. Both teams had identical records to close out the 2021 campaign. Mississippi State finished the year with a 7-6 record after losing to Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl.
Memphis became bowl eligible at 6-6, but their bowl game against Hawaii was canceled due to a covid-19 outbreak. In 2022, Mississippi State and Memphis have high expectations for various reasons. Memphis needs to finish this season with a record well above 500.
Their intentions regarding becoming a member of a Power Five conference have been well-known. As for Mississippi State, the team is going into year three of the Mike Leach era. The Bulldogs have a roster that is loaded with veteran talent. The expectation is that the Bulldogs’ veteran roster is efficient enough to make things interesting in a highly competitive SEC West division.
What Does Memphis Need to Do to Win?
Running the football is barely an option for Coach Leach, which is a plus for the Memphis defense. Slowing down his air raid attack will be their top priority. Defensive coordinator Matt Barnes must create a few exotic coverages to confuse quarterback Will Rogers. The air raid system comprises plays such as crossing routes and short to intermediate passing situations.
If the coverages cannot make things difficult for Rogers, he will throw the football until the clock hits zero. On offense, the running attack needs to be established. The more opportunities that Memphis can create running the football, it limits the more chances that Rogers has to get back on the field. The air raid offense is all about control, and if the Tigers can limit what the Bulldogs can do, it will go a long way in winning Saturday’s football game.
What Is Going to Happen?
Does Memphis need to win Saturday’s game against Mississippi State to have a great season? No, they do not. It’s only the first game of the year, and there will be many opportunities to gain traction in the America Athletic Conference. I expect the Bulldogs to avenge last season’s loss against the Tigers, but it will not be the blowout win that everyone seems to believe will happen. Mississippi State will have the home crowd, the cowbells, and enough momentum that will allow them to leave Davis Wade Stadium as a winner. The Bulldogs win by two scores.
Mississippi State 37
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