Memphis (8-4) vs Western Kentucky (10-3)
Memphis and Western Kentucky have, in recent years, established themselves as two of the better Group of 5 programs. Both teams have also lost head coaches to Power 5 Conferences over the last two seasons.
When Memphis Has The Ball: Memphis has had success all year when Riley Ferguson throws the ball to Anthony Miller. The combo is one of the most dangerous quarterback-receiver tandems in college football this year. While Memphis does tend to turn the ball over more than they should, their offensive efficiency has been able to overcome that throughout the 2016 season. The Hilltoppers do not generate a bunch of sacks Chris Brown and Keith Johnson each average a tackle for loss per game. They’ll need to force Memphis into long third downs throughout this game in hopes of limiting their scoring opportunities.
When Western Kentucky Has The Ball: The biggest issue surrounding the Hilltoppers is the loss of Head Coach Jeff Brohm, who departed for the Purdue job. With ANthony Wales at running back and Mike White, among the nation’s most efficient passers under center, the Hilltoppers figure to be in good hands. Nicholas Norris and Taywan Taylor have 29 touchdowns and over 2800 yards between them so the players are there. Western Kentucky must hope the play calling is there too. Arthur Maulet was second in the American Conference in passes defended Jonathan Cook and Chauncey Lanier were also effective in that area and the trio figures to be busy.
Prediction: Ultimately Memphis has done a better job generating turnovers this season and the loss of Jeff Brohm should have an impact on the Hilltoppers. If it does not they will likely win. I think it will.
Memphis 48-Western Kentucky 45