Memphis Tigers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
Memphis is proof of how important coaching is. The program was a total mess - a tire fire in shoulder pads. But then Justin Fuente took over and won 10 games in his third year - with a team that had lost 21 of 24 before he arrived. Fuente parlayed the turnaround into the Virginia Tech job, but the team hasn't lost ground with Mike Norvell. He also won 10 last year - in only 11 regular-season games - in his second year, and he is looking to go even further.
2017 in a Nutshell
Memphis was one of many teams affected by tropical storms. Their game against UCF was postponed, and they had to cancel their Sept. 30 Georgia State game to fit in UCF. They couldn't find a late replacement game, so they played only 11 games. The good news, though, is that they won 10 of the 11. Two came against ranked teams, but both teams were not particularly deserving of those ranks, and both were 25th at the time - UCLA early on and Navy later. The only setback was the rescheduled UCF game, and Scott Frost's team kind of beat them up. They scored only 13 against the Knights. In every other regular-season game they tallied at least 30 and had more than 40 eight times - including 66 once and 70 twice. They got a rematch with UCF in the conference title game, and though they lost it went much better - they lost 62-55 in double overtime. It all added up to a Liberty Bowl berth against Iowa State, and they lost that one 21-20 in an uncharacteristic but still very entertaining game.
Key Additions and Departures
QB Riley Ferguson was excellent last year, but he's gone. Ferguson followed Paxton Lynch, so the QB luck has been outstanding for the team, and they will be hoping for more of the same. The next hope isn't certain, though. Brady White was a four-star recruit that Norvell signed at Arizona State, and now he joins Memphis as a grad transfer. He has talent but very little collegiate game experience. Sophomore David Moore knows the system better but might not have as much talent. And junior Brady Davis is a factor, too. It will be an interesting and very important race. Running back depth is excellent. And since the Tigers use their backs as receivers more than most teams, that is particularly important. Receivers aren't as strong, though. All-American Anthony Miller went to the Bears in the second round of the draft, and live-fire experience is in short supply. But the offense is so aggressively pass happy that it is easier for guys with some talent to step here than in many places. The line returns four starters, and all are veterans in their fourth year of starting here or elsewhere. There are a couple of guys who will be fighting hard for that final spot. The line was excellent last year and will be again.
Five of the top six defensive linemen are back, and the top tackler last year was a true freshman, so this is a line that it is reasonable to have high expectations for. The linebacking group is experienced, too, though Genard Avery was lost to the draft. There is depth and high hopes form within the program. Three of four starters return in the secondary as well as all of the next four most frequent players. All in all, this is an experienced defense that should be quite good.
Success for a smaller program means coaching change, and while Norvell got an extension he predictably lost assistants. Offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey is now running the offense for Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M. QB coach Kenny Dillingham moves up the ladder to replace him. Dillingham is a Norvell disciple who came with him from Arizona State, but he is young - even compared to Norvell, who is only 36. On defense they kept coordinator Chris Ball, who has been with Norvell all along, but shuffled several positional jobs. Norvell has done a very good job of picking assistants up to this point, so there is no reason to worry about what he is doing this year.
Biggest Area of Concern
When a quarterback-centered team hasn't figured out who their QB is at the end of July then that is rarely a great thing.
Memphis Tigers Schedule Analysis
If you are trying to break in a new QB, you couldn't ask for much better than the first half of this schedule. Week 2 at Navy could be tough, but the other five - Mercer, Georgia State, South Alabama, at Tulane and UConn - are about as smooth as it gets at this level. They should be at least 5-1 at the halfway mark. Then the season will be defined by two games - at home against the UCF team they couldn't solve last year, and at Missouri and Drew Lock. After that the road home is easier again - East Carolina, Tulsa, SMU, Houston. If this team can solve some questions, and if the defense can meet expectations, this is a schedule that will bleed a lot of wins.
2018-19 Memphis Tigers Betting Odds and Trends
Memphis is +90000 to win the national title at Bovada , which puts them in the realm of serious long shots - for reference, they are tied with Minnesota, and the Gophers are probably about the 10 th-best team in the Big Ten. Memphis is the second choice to win the AAC at +250, behind the UCF at +135. The season win total sits at 8.5, with the "over" slightly favored.
2018-19 Memphis Tigers Predictions and College Football Picks
Records of 5-1, 1-1, 4-0. That's what I expect from the three sections of the schedule, which means 10-2 and a likely berth in the conference title game again. I reserve the right to amend that prediction if the QB situation is messy, but for now it feels right. I like what Norvell is doing.
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