College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for UTSA vs. Memphis: Upset On The Road To Be Expected?
Joe Murphy/Getty Images. Pictured: Calvin Austin III
- Memphis and UTSA face off in a Group of 5 battle
- Both the Tigers and Roadrunners are currently 3-0.
- Mike Ianniello has this game covered with a preview and a best bet.
UTSA vs. Memphis Odds
|UTSA Odds||+3 (+105)|
|Memphis Odds||-3 (-125)|
|Moneyline||+140 / -160|
|Over/Under||66 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
A pair of 3-0 Group of 5 teams will face off on Saturday when UTSA heads to Memphis. The AAC has gone 4-1 against Conference USA, but the Roadrunners might be the best team in the conference and have lofty expectations this season.
After finishing second in the C-USA West last season with a 7-5 record in the first season under Jeff Traylor, UTSA entered the year as the co-favorites to win the conference. UTSA began the season with a statement upset win at Illinois for its first victory over a Big Ten opponent.
Traylor is an excellent recruiter and was named the Big 12 Recruiter of the Year in 2016 after helping Texas secure back-to-back top-10 classes. The 2021 class he signed is the highest-rated class in UTSA history.
Memphis is also in the second year under their head man after going 8-3 in Ryan Silverfield’s first season. They’re also off to an undefeated start and are coming off a thrilling shootout win against Arkansas State and an upset win against Mississippi State.
The Tigers have won 17 straight games at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, not dropping a home game since October 13, 2018.
UTSA vs. Memphis Betting Preview
The Roadrunners’ offense returned 85% of TARP and is rated the best offense in Conference USA, according to SP+.
2020 C-USA Offense Player of the Year Sincere McCormick is one of the best running backs in the country. He was second in the FBS with 1,467 rushing yards last year. He got just seven carries in a blowout win against Lamar, but racked up more than 100 yards in the other two games this year.
Quarterback Frank Harris is a dangerous dual-threat QB, who is averaging 221.7 yards passing and 30.7 yards rushing per game this season. He did leave last week’s game shaken up but was able to return to finish the game.
Harris has weapons to throw to with Zakhari Franklin and Joshua Cephus on the outside. Franklin leads Conference USA with 346 receiving yards and has caught a touchdown in every game. He torched Illinois for 10 catches and 155 yards.
UTSA’s offensive line is terrific and returned all five starters from a unit that ranked 33rd in Line Yards and 22nd in Stuff Rate last season. They’re up to 18th in Line Yards and fifth in Stuff Rate this season.
The Roadrunners’ defense brought back all 11 starters from 2020 and their top-14 leading tacklers from a really solid defense.
That returning production is showing on the field.
Through the first three games, UTSA ranks 44th in Passing Success Rate and 19th in Rushing Success Rate on defense. It held both Lamar and Middle Tennessee State to fewer than 200 yards of total offense.
All-Conference safety Rashad Wisdom is the star of this defense after leading the team with 95 tackles, over 20 tackles more than the next closest guy. He was second in the conference in tackles and led the league with four interceptions.
This season, they have really improved against the run, led by two inside linebackers Trevor Harmanson and Jamal Ligon. They clog up the middle for the UTSA defense, along with defensive tackles Brandon Matterson and Trumane Bell II.
After creating pressure was a big strength for the Roadrunners last year, that finally showed up this year in their last game. They were able to tally six sacks and nine tackles for loss against Middle Tennessee State.
UTSA is going need its defense to continue to ball out against this Memphis offense to have a chance.
Just as we have come to expect from the Tigers’ offense over the last couple years, this team can put up a lot of points. They’re averaging more than 500 yards per game and rank 15th in the country, averaging 42.7 points per game.
After what seemed like 10 years in college, Brady White is finally gone from Memphis. Arizona State transfer Grant Gunnell was expected to step in as the starter but was forced to undergo surgery before the season.
The keys to the offense were turned over to true freshman Seth Henigan. Through three games he has thrown for 841 yards, eight touchdowns and one pick. He was terrific against Arkansas State but struggled last week against the Bulldogs.
Henigan’s main target is one of the most electric players in the country in Calvin Austin III. He already has 21 catches for 391 yards and leads the country with six touchdowns. He also added a 94-yard punt return to help give Memphis the upset win over Mississippi State. Austin leads the country with three receptions of more than 50 yards.
CALVIN AUSTIN III CAUGHT THEM SLEEPING 🤯 pic.twitter.com/H5o828mFQ3
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 18, 2021
Coming into the year, the team was expected to rely on their top returning backs Rodrigues Clark, Kylan Watkins, Asa Martin and Marquavius Weaver.
Instead, it’s been freshman Brandon Thomas leading the way. He has more than double the carries as the next back and is averaging 140.3 yards per game, the second-most in the country.
The Memphis defense was solid against the run last year and did a good job forcing turnovers, but was torched through the air and really struggled to create Havoc.
It does not appear those areas have improved much as the Tigers rank 102nd in Passing Success Rate and 82nd in Havoc on defense. They’ve allowed more than 1,000 total yards passing in the last two games.
In addition, their run defense has taken a step back this year and also ranks outside of the top 100 in Success Rate against the run. They sit 109th in Line Yards and have only forced two turnovers this year.
Safety Quindell Johnson is the best player on the defense. After leading the team with 81 tackles last season, he’s second this year with 25 and has three passes broken up, too.
The craziest stat as it relates to this Memphis team is that true freshman cornerback Greg Rubin leads the entire country with 10 passes broken up in just three games.
To put this into perspective, in the last two years, the national leader finished with 16 passes broken up in 12 games. Rubin has 10 in just three.
UTSA vs. Memphis Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UTSA and Memphis match up statistically:
UTSA Offense vs. Memphis Defense
Memphis Offense vs. UTSA Defense
Pace of Play / Other
UTSA vs. Memphis Betting Pick
The strength of the UTSA offense was expected to be the dynamic rushing attack behind McCormick, but it has ranked just 83rd in Success Rate so far this season.
Saturday should be a get-right game for the rushing game against a Memphis defense that ranks 100th in Rushing Success Rate on defense.
UTSA’s offensive line ranks 18th in Line Yards and fifth in Stuff Rate and will be able to push around the Tigers’ front seven that ranks 109th in Line Yards.
This handicap comes down to Memphis’ ability to create explosive plays. As high-scoring as its offense has been, the team ranks just 66th in Success Rate and has not consistently moved the ball.
Instead, the Tigers rank 10th in the country in explosiveness and have relied on Austin breaking free for home run scores. UTSA ranks 27th at defending big plays and has allowed just two plays of 30+ yards all season, tied for fourth in the country.
For these reasons, I like the Roadrunners to establish the run on the Tigers and limit the Memphis big plays to keep this close and give themselves a chance to pull off the upset.
This line touched +5.5 early in the week but was quickly bet down and now sits at +3.5 or +3 everywhere. If you can get that +3.5, take the Roadrunners on Saturday.