One could argue that the Memphis Tigers were one of the best teams in the country this season. The AAC will probably unfairly be judged by how UCF plays against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Memphis should get credit in a year in which it was only beaten in Orlando twice, especially if it knocks off the Iowa State Cyclones in a de facto home game at the Liberty Bowl.
Memphis Bowl History
It’s strange to think that the Tigers have never played in the bowl game they have hosted for years and years. This is Memphis’ first trip to the Liberty Bowl and just its 10th all-time postseason appearance.
The team hasn’t had great success, winning just four times in meaningful December games. The Tigers won the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl most recently. You have to go back to 2005, 2003 and 1971 to find the other three program bowl wins.
Iowa State Bowl History
The Cyclones last played in a bowl game in 2012. They haven’t won more than three games in a season since that point, a true testament to the job Matt Campbell has done in his second season in Ames.
Iowa State’s last bowl win was back in 2009 at the Insight Bowl. The team is only 3-9 all-time in postseason games.
Why Memphis Will Win the Liberty Bowl
The Tigers can score with anyone in the nation. They dropped 48 points on UCLA earlier in the season and put up at least 30 against every team not named UCF.
The talent on this team is just insane. By the time the Liberty Bowl is done, Memphis will have a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,200-yard rusher and a 1,500-yard receiver. That doesn’t even include Patrick Taylor Jr., who has 807 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground or the six other men who had at least 200 receiving yards.
Why Iowa State Will Win the Liberty Bowl
Iowa State has proven that it can do anything this year. This is the only team that beat Oklahoma, and it did so in Norman. If you can beat the Sooners on the road, you can beat anyone in the land.
Even though the Cyclones don’t run the ball too well, they have a stud of a rusher in David Montgomery. He is a 1,000-yard back, and he’s going to have to have the ball in his hands a bunch to win this game. The Tigers may or may not be able to deal with the physicality of a Big XII team, especially with the way Iowa State plays along the line of scrimmage defensively. ISU ranks No. 30 in the nation against the run.
Liberty Bowl Prediction
Most assume that Memphis is going to run the Cyclones out of town, but we aren’t all that sure. Kyle Kempt improved as the season went on for Iowa State, and though the team did lose three of its final four games, all three defeats were by a single score.
It’s risky picking against a team that beat everyone on its schedule aside from UCF and came up a play or two short in overtime of knocking the Knights off in Orlando in the AAC Championship Game. It’s just as risky playing against a squad competing in its own home stadium. Still, the Tigers feel slightly flawed to us defensively, and Iowa State could take advantage of that in a high-scoring Liberty Bowl.
Liberty Bowl Pick: Iowa State 41, Memphis 38
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