Arkansas State vs. Memphis Updated Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Saturday, Sept. 5)
Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images. Pictured: Kedarian Jones (13).
- Arkansas State vs. Memphis highlights Saturday's college football slate, featuring two prominent offenses and a 73.5-point over/under.
- Memphis is a huge 18.5-point favorite over the Red Wolves, but Mike Calabrese sees a path for Arkansas State to put up a strong fight.
- Read on for his full betting breakdown, including updated odds, analysis and picks for college football's primetime matchup.
Arkansas State vs. Memphis Odds
|Arkansas State Odds||+18.5 [BET NOW]|
|Memphis Odds||-18.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+570/-900 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||73.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET|
Saturday’s Week 1 college football slate reminds me of the expression, “a face only a mother could love.” We may not have any blue-chip programs or truly meaningful non-conference matchups on Saturday’s card, but one game is clearly at the top of the heap: Arkansas State vs. Memphis.
The Red Wolves and Tigers have been perennial bowl teams over the last decade. Memphis has appeared in six straight postseason games, culminating in last season’s Cotton Bowl berth as the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl game representative. The Tigers drew a matchup against Big Ten powerhouse Penn State and dropped 39 points on the Nittany Lions in a losing effort.
Not to be outdone, Arkansas State arguably boasts an even more impressive postseason resume due to its longevity. The Red Wolves have an active streak of nine consecutive bowl game appearances dating back to the 2011-12 season. Not only is that a school record, but it is also the 14th-longest active postseason streak in the country.
On top of that, both teams really know how to light up the scoreboard. Memphis ranked eighth in the nation with 40.4 points per game last season, and Arkansas State ranked 26th with 33.7 points per game. So, it should surprise no one that this matchup’s game total sits at 74.5 points.
As a college football fan, you could do a lot worse than watching these two programs run up and down the field. Here’s how I’m betting Saturday’s primetime matchup between the Red Wolves and Tigers.
Check out our free NCAAF odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.
Betting Early-Season Games in College Football
Both of these teams were pretty tremendous down the stretch last fall. Arkansas State was a fourth-down stop against South Alabama away from ending its 2019 campaign on a six-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Memphis dominated AAC conference play, winning seven of its last eight games — including three wins over top-25 opponents — before falling to Penn State in the Cotton Bowl.
The trick with early-season college football betting is deciphering how much (or how little) previous success is correlated with future profitability. One factor that takes on much greater significance during the first month of the season is team continuity.
Fewer practices and reps will give teams with experience and overall cohesion an edge. Returning starters is a useful statistic, but I’m giving 1.5-to-3 extra points in my power ratings to teams that return their starting quarterback, offensive coordinator, and play-caller.
Memphis checks the first two of those three boxes with QB Brady White and OC Kevin Johns returning. Former head coach Mike Norvell called plays during his four-year tenure, which means that Johns will truly be in charge for the first time.
Blake Anderson’s team can claim all three returning elements, as the Red Wolves return a pair of starting QBs and Keith Heckendorf at OC and play-caller. Those key returning pieces are critical to sustaining Arkansas State’s recent offensive success. And it’s helpful to remember this was an offense that posted the following statistics in 2019 (national rank indicated in parentheses):
- 33.7 points per game (26)
- 436.4 yards per game (32)
- 155.4 QB Rating (14)
- 128 combined offensive-line starts (4)
The Red Wolves offense returns nine starters this season, including their entire offensive line.
Kenneth Gainwell Jr.’s Opt-Out
The second edge in favor of ASU is Kenneth Gainwell — or, to be more precise, Gainwell’s notable absence. The redshirt sophomore has opted out of the 2020 season due to a series of tragic family deaths related to COVID-19.
Gainwell made the Memphis offense special last season, racking up over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 16 total touchdowns. He also accounted for 37 plays of at least 15 yards. Gainwell was a matchup nightmare and would have given the Red Wolves fits out of the backfield and from the slot.
Instead of that playing out on Saturday night, the Red Wolves can now protect their green secondary and avoid loading the box to stop Gainwell. Will they stop Memphis altogether? Absolutely not. But, I expect a far less explosive Memphis offense than the one we saw down the stretch last season.
The final differentiator is Memphis’ severely diminished home-field advantage. Not only will there be a sparse crowd at the Liberty Bowl, but Arkansas State will only need to travel an hour to the game from Jonesboro, negating any uncomfortable transportation issues or extended hotel stays.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think the Red Wolves will be a live dog in this game, and they have the kind of quarterback play to throw a scare into the defending AAC champions.
Pick: Arkansas State +19.5. I also lean to the over 74.5.
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