WKU

2016 Boca Raton Bowl, Memphis vs. WKU Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

Boca Raton Bowl Prediction, Memphis vs. WKU Game Preview, History, Scores


Three reasons why you should watch the Boca Raton Bowl between Memphis (8-4) vs. WKU (10-3), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


200-boca-ratonBroadcast

Date: Tuesday, December 20th
Game Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
Network: ESPN

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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 14 out of 40

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Boca Raton Bowl

San Diego State vs. Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl was the beat early matchup, but this might be one of the best until Miami and West Virginia face off in the Russell Athletic Bowl on the 28th. Memphis is coming in winning three of its last four games, including a shocker over Louisville, while Western Kentucky is roaring, winning seven straight including the Conference USA championship. Both teams are playing well, and both teams have a big-time …

Offense. It doesn’t matter that Jeff Brohm is off to Purdue, or that a defensive coach – Nick Holt – is the interim head man until Mike Sanford takes over. The Hilltopper passing game is going to roll. Second in the nation in scoring and seventh in total offense, WKU can and will move the ball. Memphis has the firepower, too, averaging over 460 yards per game with 42 points or more in three of the last four.

Kickoff returns. It’s become a lost art, for good and for bad, but these two teams are amazing at it. Both teams average close to 27 yards per try, with WKU’s Kylen Towner averaging a ridiculous 40.8 yards per pop, and MU’s Tony Pollard averaging just over 28 yards per turn with two scores.

Here’s Why Memphis Will Win The Boca Raton Bowl

Besides the interim head coach issue, WKU hasn’t exactly beaten a whole slew of killers. Yeah, it pushed Vanderbilt into overtime – and lost – and it beat Middle Tennessee in double-OT, and was great against Louisiana Tech, but that’s about it. The Hilltoppers only have two wins over FCS teams with winning records, while Memphis beat Houston and Temple and pushed South Florida in a fight.

WKU doesn’t have a big issue with turnover margin, but Memphis is fantastic at it. The Tigers are a +10 on the year, and when they don’t win it, they lose. They’re 7-0 against FCS teams when they don’t lose the turnover battle, and 0-3 when they do. It helps that …

The secondary doesn’t give up too many big plays. Okay, it got lit up by Greg Ward and Houston, but on the year it gave up just 17 scores and picked off 15 passes. Most of all, it doesn’t get bombed on. Most decent quarterbacks on the slate dinked and dunked, and it took something special – like a red-hot day from USF’s Quinton Flowers or a big performance from Chad Kelly of Ole Miss – to rip through this group.

Here’s Why WKU Will Win The Boca Raton Bowl

The Hilltoppers have the balance in case the passing game is sputtering a bit. WKU has one of the nation’s most efficient passing attacks, and even though Memphis will have a month to prepare for it, that shouldn’t matter. But if it does, that’s what Anthony Wales is for. Red hot over the second half of the season, he finished with six 100-yard rushing games in the final seven, including a 209-yard, four score day against Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA title game. Memphis will have to deal with it all.

The Memphis defense might be okay overall, but it gives up a whole lot of first downs. It’s even okay on third downs – it’s good enough when it comes to getting off the field – but teams are able to hit on first and second down plays just enough to keep things going. WKU is eighth in the nation in first downs – this offense is great on every down.

The WKU O line has been outstanding. That’s hardly a shocker considering the offense is so efficient and explosive, but it all starts up front with an O line that keeps QB Mike White clean. The Hilltoppers have only allowed 16 sacks on the season, and Memphis just doesn’t have that much of a pass rush. White should be able to throw at will.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Boca Raton Bowl

In theory, this should be fun. But if history is any indication, this has total dud potential. Will WKU show up with an interim head coach? Will Memphis finally play well after losing three of its last four games as a program and getting blown out in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl by Auburn last year – albeit with an interim head coach? If either one isn’t on its game, the other could quickly turn the lights out.

There are few more breathtaking teams to watch than WKU when it gets it all rolling. The receiving tandem of Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris have combined for 162 catches for 2,839 yards and 29 touchdowns, averaging well over 17 yards per carry. Wales can catch as well as tear off the big plays for the ground game. This Hilltopper attack is a machine – it really might not matter right now who the head coach is.

Okay, Riley Ferguson, this is your game. It was his job to take over for Paxton Lynch and make the Memphis offense fly, and he’s been able to more than make the offense his own, throwing for over 3,500 yards with 30 scores and nine picks. Of those interceptions, two came in the opener against SE Missouri State, and six came in the three losses. In the seven other wins, he gave up just one interception. WKU has picked off one pass in each of the last seven games.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Boca Raton Bowl?

Can WKU really beat the better teams? The offense was killing everyone over the second half of the season, and Memphis has shown it can give up the big points and huge numbers, struggling against Navy’s ground game, Houston’s passing attack, and everything Tulsa wanted to do.

However, the Tiger offense will be able to keep up, and yes, not having Brohm around will make a difference. It’ll be a firefight, but Memphis will have just a wee bit more on defense in key situations.

Final Score

Memphis 47, Western Kentucky 44

Line

Western Kentucky -5.5, o/u: 79

ATS Confidence: 3
5: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score in your favorite bar
0: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score after covering a College Football Playoff semifinal

Must See Rating: 3.5
5: New Year’s Eve: Defected In The House, Ministry of Sound, London
0: New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Special Co-Host Kathy Griffin

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Boca Raton Bowl History, Results

Dec. 22, 2015 Toledo 32 Temple 17
Dec. 23, 2014 Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23