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Memphis vs. Utah State: First Responder Bowl Preview

The Memphis Tigers did not get the final result they wanted to close out the 2022 season. The program had aspirations of playing for the AAC championship. But on a positive note, the program qualified for a ninth-straight bowl game appearance. The Tigers will take on the Utah State Aggies of the Mountain West Conference in the 2022 Servpro First Responder Bowl.

Both programs have a record of 6-6. The interesting part about how both teams got to 6-6 is that it occurred differently. The Tigers started the season with a 4-1 record but would struggle down the stretch after blowing multiple leads against teams such as Houston and East Carolina.

They would fight their way back to .500, which qualified them to become bowl eligible. The Utah State kicked off the 2022 campaign on a shaky start. After coming off a 12-1 season that resulted in a Mountain West Conference championship, the Aggies started the year with a 1-4 record. Utah State would go on to win five of its last seven games but would fail to get above .500 when they were defeated by Boise State 42-23

Also, the Tigers will be dealing with a familiar face in Aggies head coach Blake Anderson. He was the Arkansas State head coach when Ryan Silverfield made his home debut in 2020. The Tigers won 37-24. Regarding Tuesday’s game, the Tigers must take advantage of vulnerable areas on the Utah State football team.

They must neutralize their top weapon in running back Calvin Tyler. He rushed for 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns. Outside of Tyler, there are not a lot of options that can severely impact how the Tigers will perform on defense. Their quarterback Cooper Legas has only thrown for 1,495 yards, 11 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Overall, the Aggies is an offense that struggles to score points. They dropped from being ranked 19th in total offense in 2021 to 92nd in 2022. The Aggies are also a squad that is ranked 128th in the country in red-zone offense.

Their rush defense is subpar as well. They are ranked 119th in the nation regarding defending the run. Those deficiencies can open the door for Memphis to have one of its best performances of the year. Despite not having the explosive playmaking ability they once had a few seasons ago, Memphis has shown that some of those elements remain in several games this season. A strong outing against Utah State can be a precursor of things to come in the upcoming 2023 campaign.

Final Prediction

Utah State’s lack of explosiveness on offense is a big deal. That doesn’t bode well for a unit that has struggled to be productive throughout the year. However, the Tigers have had issues as well which will make things interesting on Tuesday. Overall, Memphis will close the season on a high note. The Tigers will win by two scores

Memphis 38, Utah State 24

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