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Arkansas State vs. Memphis Odds, Picks: Why You Should Back the Tigers

Arkansas State vs. Memphis Odds, Picks: Why You Should Back the Tigers article feature image

Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jonah Gambill (Memphis)

  • Memphis takes on Arkansas State as part of college football's Week 3.
  • The Tigers are coming off of a 37-13 beat down of Navy while the Red Wolves lost to Ohio State.
  • Keg breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.

Arkansas State vs. Memphis Odds

Saturday, Sept. 17
7 p.m. ET
Arkansas State Odds
-110o / -110u
Memphis Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The 61st meeting of the Paint Bucket Bowl takes place on Saturday between Arkansas State and Memphis.

The Paint Bucket Bowl, if you don't know, is a rivalry that dates back over 100 years to 1914, when the schools were known as First District Agriculture and Mechanical School and West Tennessee Normal School, respectively.

However, it hasn't always been the Paint Bucket Bowl. The trophy and namesake were created in an attempt to eliminate the "kidnapping" of the opposing players during game week and defacing of the losing school.

The original trophy was made of paint buckets and paint brushes, and the tradition was for the winning team to paint a designated area of the losing school's campus in their colors.

But it's been years since the infamous bucket trophy has been seen, and while the rivalry may not have great significance to the players on the field, fans and alumni have this game circled on the calendar.

With just 75 miles between the two universities, expect a show out of both blue and red at the Liberty Bowl.

Memphis leads the all-time series 32-22-5. After not playing from 2014-2019, the Tigers picked up right where they left off in 2013, as they won the matchup the last two years and are riding a three-game win streak.

The Red Wolves' last win at Memphis came in 2006, but the NCAA vacated that victory. Before that, Arkansas States' last win in Memphis was over 30 years ago (1989).

And while Memphis has won the game the last two years, it has failed to cover the spread both times — winning by 13 in 2020 as an 18-point favorite and five last year after closing as a 5.5-point favorite, per SportsInsights.

Will the third time be the charm for the Tigers this year as a two-touchdown favorite? Or can Arkansas State find some of the magic its fellow Sun Belt teams had last week.

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Head coach Butch Jones had a successful offseason in the transfer portal, bringing in former Florida State QB James Blackman and Oregon State grad-transfer WR Champ Flemings, who averaged 10 yards per catch or more in all four of his years at Oregon State.

Blackman is completing 64.8% of his passes this season and has yet to throw an interception.

The offense has been pretty well balanced through the first two games, putting up 392 rushing yards and 456 passing yards. But it's hard to get an idea of how good the unit is after playing an FCS school in Week 1 followed by a top-three team in Ohio State.

The defense is in a similar situation, as well. The Red Wolves were able to cause a significant amount of Havoc in both games, and I think that's something we will see continue against Memphis.

Holding an FCS team to just 100 yards of total offense is expected, but holding Ohio State to just 17 points in the first 25 minutes — including two three-and-outs — is something I wouldn't expect from a decent amount of Power Five teams.

Following that though, the Buckeyes went on to outscore Arkansas State 28-9.

Not much is clear on either side of the ball for Arkansas State, but what is clear is its 10 opponents the rest of the season will likely be more complex than Grambling and less demanding than Ohio State.

Memphis should be a solid indicator of the team Jones has assembled in Jonesboro.

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Memphis Tigers

After an embarrassing 49-23 loss to open the season against Mississippi State, the Tigers redeemed themselves in a big way against Navy.

The Tigers appeared in control the entire way against the Midshipmen, never giving up the lead after a quick start in the first quarter. The offense flowed well through quarterback Seth Henigan — both in the air and on the ground — while the defense handled the triple option easily.

Eight different receivers recorded a catch against Navy, while four put up 50 or more receiving yards. The talent at wideout — which includes four receivers ranked inside the AAC top-25 for receiving yards and yards per game this year — could not be better news for Henigan.

Henigan averaged 302 yards a game last season. Against Navy, he put up 415 yards, the third-most of his career.

He also mentioned after the game that the offense was about to reach its goal of eight "X Plays," which are plays of 20 yards or more.

I think this offense will only get better and more explosive as the season progresses, and I think numbers similar to what it posted against Navy should be expected this week and moving forward.

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Arkansas State vs. Memphis Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Arkansas State and Memphis match up statistically:

Arkansas State Offense vs. Memphis Defense
Rush Success11368
Line Yards11780
Pass Success64127
Pass Blocking**7150
Finishing Drives9498
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Memphis Offense vs. Arkansas State Defense
Rush Success9399
Line Yards1168
Pass Success1137
Pass Blocking**7420
Finishing Drives5895
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling10842
PFF Coverage77118
SP+ Special Teams652
Seconds per Play28.3 (104)23.5 (25)
Rush Rate56.4% (51)44.9% (100)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Arkansas State vs. Memphis Betting Pick

It is a rivalry game, and while the Red Wolves were able to exceed expectations against Ohio State for most of the matchup, in the end, the Buckeyes pulled away.

That's what I think Memphis will do in this game.

Arkansas State is one of the worst teams in the country in Explosiveness Allowed, specifically on passing downs.

There aren't many matchups better than this for the Tigers, who are fourth in passing yards and fifth in offensive efficiency in the AAC.

Memphis put up over 400 passing yards against Navy last week, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it surpass that number against Arkansas State.

And with our Action Network Projections making Memphis a 20-point favorite, I would back the Tigers as high as a 14-point favorite at home to extend their streak over the Red Wolves.

Pick: Memphis -14 or better

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