Iowa State vs. Memphis: AutoZone Liberty Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

Iowa State vs. Memphis: AutoZone Liberty Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

American Athletic

Iowa State vs. Memphis: AutoZone Liberty Bowl Prediction, Game Preview


Three reasons why you should watch the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.

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AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Iowa State (7-5) vs. Memphis (10-2)


Date: Saturday, December 30th
Game Time: 12:30 pm
Venue: Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN
Network: ABC

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The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 
14 out of 39

2017-2018 Bowl Central: Schedules, Picks, Love
CFN Expert Consensus Confidence Picks

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

2012. That was the last time Iowa State played in a bowl. 2009. That was the last time Iowa State won a bowl game. These post-season things aren’t a regular occurrence for the Cyclone program, and winning them have been even harder to do with just three victories in the 12. This is a big deal.

Bowl wins are even tougher for Memphis. The Tigers won the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl against BYU in a 55-48 fight – literally, a fight. But they’re 2-5 going back to 2003, and were blown out in their last two – the 2016 Boca Raton to WKU, and the 2015 Birmingham to Auburn. This is a big deal.

These two play fun games. Memphis was involved in shootout after shootout, with the two losses coming to UCF. Can the offense keep it all going and get the American Athletic Conference a desperately needed win? Iowa State played six games decided by seven points or fewer including four of its last five.

Here’s Why Iowa State Will Win The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Defense is optional for Memphis. Granted, more often than not, teams are bombing away to try keeping up the pace after having a nightmare of a time against the Tiger O. But the MU secondary does its part, too, allowing 279 yards per game. Iowa State might not have the Big 12’s most dangerous passing game, but …

The Cyclones have a terrific receiving corps. Allen Lazard is a special talent who provided a big spark when he chose to come back for his final year. He’s a playmaker, Hakeem Butler, Trever Ryan and Marchie Murdock can all keep things moving, and QB Kyle Kempt has grown into a good enough passer to feed everyone against this mediocre secondary.

Zero. Nada. Zip. That’s how many fumbles Iowa State has lost all year. Memphis is amazing at forcing takeaway, but the Cyclones are ultra-careful with the ball with just two interceptions in the last four games, and again, no fumbles lost on the year.

Here’s Why Memphis Will Win The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

And here comes the Memphis passing game. The Tigers push the ball all over the field on everyone. Iowa State might have seen Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, and the all of Big 12 passing games, and Memphis is as good as any and all of them. The win over ULM was the only time the Tigers were under 279 yards through the air, and they hit the 300-yard mark eight times in the last 12 games.

Anthony Miller is as good as any receiver the Cyclones have faced all year. The senior caught 92 passes for 1,407 yards and 17 scores, coming up with 100 yards in each of his last three games, and nailing UCLA for nine catches for 185 yards and two scores. Against an Iowa State secondary that comes up with plenty of big plays, look out.

Yeah, Iowa State has yet to lose a fumble, but Memphis just doesn’t mess up. The Cyclones led the American Athletic Conference in takeaways and was fourth in the nation in turnover margin. This is a high risk, high reward defense that’s come up with three takeaways or more seven times. Memphis lost the turnover battle just one time all season – the first loss to UCF.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Iowa State won’t be fazed by dealing with a big-time offense. It kept up with Oklahoma State in a loss, beat Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and managed to survive a few shootouts. However, the magic stalled late in the season. A win is a must to cement that this was all for real.

– Yeah, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell signed an extension, but he and Memphis head man Mike Norvell are two of the hottest young head coaches in the game. They’ll both be back at their respective schools next year, but if they do this again, they’ll be off to bigger programs – no matter what the buyout.

Memphis has a running game, too. Ferguson and Miller might be special, but Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor combined for almost 2,000 yards with 22 touchdowns. This is a dangerous, balanced offense for Iowa State to deal with.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The AutoZone Liberty Bowl?

Iowa State can get into a shootout, but only to a certain extent.

The Cyclones allowed lost both times they gave up more than 40 points, and Memphis averages 48 points per game. So how do Campbell and company handle the storm? They slow the game down a wee bit.

Time of possession doesn’t matter to Iowa State, but it will against the Tigers. Penalties will matter, too. Memphis gets flagged a lot, and the Cyclones don’t. Those little things will matter.

Memphis will play well at home, but Iowa State will slow things down just enough to survive.

Final Score

Iowa State 37, Memphis 31
More Bowl Info & Get Tickets


Memphis -3.5, o/u: 66

ATS Confidence: 3
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar

Must See Rating: 3.5
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas

Liberty Bowl History, Results

Dec. 30, 2017 Georgia 31, TCU 23
Jan. 2, 2016 Arkansas 45 Kansas State 23
Dec. 29, 2014 Texas A&M 45 West Virginia 37
Dec. 31, 2013 Mississippi State 44 Rice 7
Dec. 31, 2012 Tulsa 31 Iowa State 17
Dec. 31, 2011 Cincinnati 31 Vanderbilt 24
Dec. 31, 2010 UCF 10 Georgia 6
Jan. 2, 2010 Arkansas 20 East Carolina 17 (OT)
Jan. 2, 2009 Kentucky 25 East Carolina 19
Dec. 29, 2007 Mississippi State 10 UCF 3
Dec. 29, 2006 South Carolina 44 Houston 36
Dec. 31, 2005 Tulsa 31 Fresno State 24
Dec. 31, 2004 Louisville 44 Boise State 40
Dec. 31, 2003 Utah 17 Southern Miss 0
Dec. 31, 2002 TCU 25 Colorado State 3
Dec. 31, 2001 Louisville 28 BYU 10
Dec. 29, 2000 Colorado State 22 Louisville 17
Dec. 31, 1999 Southern Miss 23 Colorado State 17
Dec. 31, 1998 Tulane 41 BYU 27
Dec. 31, 1997 Southern Miss 41 Pittsburgh 7
Dec. 27, 1996 Syracuse 30 Houston 17
Dec. 30, 1995 East Carolina 19 Stanford 13
Dec. 31, 1994 Illinois 30 East Carolina 0
Dec. 28, 1993 Louisville 18 Michigan State 7
Dec. 31, 1992 Mississippi 13 Air Force 0
Dec. 29, 1991 Air Force 38 Mississippi State 15
Dec. 27, 1990 Air Force 23 Ohio State 11
Dec. 29, 1989 Mississippi 42 Air Force 29
Dec. 28, 1988 Indiana 34 South Carolina 10
Dec. 29, 1987 Georgia 20 Arkansas 17
Dec. 29, 1986 Tennessee 21 Minnesota 14
Dec. 27, 1985 Baylor 21 LSU 7
Dec. 27, 1984 Auburn 21 Arkansas 15
Dec. 29, 1983 Notre Dame 19 Boston College 18
Dec. 29, 1982 Alabama 21 Illinois 15
Dec. 30, 1981 Ohio State 31 Navy 28
Dec. 27, 1980 Purdue 28 Missouri 25
Dec. 22, 1979 Penn State 9 Tulane 6
Dec. 23, 1978 Missouri 20 LSU 15
Dec. 19, 1977 Nebraska 21 North Carolina 17
Dec. 20, 1976 Alabama 36 UCLA 6
Dec. 22, 1975 USC 20 Texas A&M 0
Dec. 16, 1974 Tennessee 7 Maryland 3
Dec. 17, 1973 N.C. State 31 Kansas 18
Dec. 18, 1972 Georgia Tech 31 Iowa State 30
Dec. 20, 1971 Tennessee 14 Arkansas 13
Dec. 12, 1970 Tulane 17 Colorado 3
Dec. 13, 1969 Colorado 47 Alabama 33
Dec. 14, 1968 Mississippi 34 Virginia Tech 17
Dec. 16, 1967 N.C. State 14 Georgia 7
Dec. 10, 1966 Miami 14 Virginia Tech 7
Dec. 18, 1965 Mississippi 13 Auburn 7
Dec. 19, 1964 Utah 32 West Virginia 6
Dec. 21, 1963 Mississippi State 16 N.C. State 12
Dec. 15, 1962 Oregon State 6 Villanova 0
Dec. 16, 1961 Syracuse 15 Miami 14
Dec. 20, 1960 Penn State 41 Oregon 12
Dec. 19, 1959 Penn State 7 Alabama 0

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