SMU vs. Memphis Odds & Pick: Juicy Live-Betting Opportunity, or Trap Game? (Saturday, Oct. 3)

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Tim Warner/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Jimmy Phillips Jr. (24) and Brandon Crossley (1).

  • The Memphis Tigers haven't taken the field in nearly one month due to COVID issues on their roster.
  • How will that impact Saturday's matchup with the SMU Mustangs?
  • Darin Gardner previews the game, including where to find betting value.

SMU vs. Memphis Betting Odds

SMU Odds -2 [BET NOW]
Memphis Odds +2 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -122/+102 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 74.5 [BET NOW]
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN2

Odds updated Saturday and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


The 3-0 SMU Mustangs face their toughest opponent of the season to date as they take on the reigning AAC champs in the Memphis Tigers.

Memphis had to pause football activities on Sept. 11 due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the team. The Tigers had to wait until last week to resume practices, and Saturday will mark 28 days since their last game.

Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield has yet to release a depth chart, but he has confirmed that some players will be unable to travel with the team due to contract tracing. He has also voiced his concerns over conditioning, since they have only just recently returned to the practice field. So how does the roster uncertainty impact the betting market?


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Memphis Tigers

Memphis had an incredibly successful 2019 season. The Tigers ran one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, leading to a 12-2 finish and an AAC Championship victory. Memphis had its first New Year’s Six Bowl in team history, facing Penn State in the Cotton Bowl.

On offense, Memphis ranked seventh in expected points added (EPA), 17th in success rate, and seventh in points per play. Quarterback Brady White returns to the Tigers after finishing fifth in yards per attempt in 2019.

Also returning is wide receiver Damonte Coxie, who finished 2019 with 1,276 receiving yards, which ranked eighth in the nation. However, the Tigers lost coach Mike Norvell after he took the head coaching job at Florida State.

The Tigers have room to improve on defense after 2019. Memphis finished above average in success rate on that side of the ball, ranking 44th, but there are a few key areas where it will be looking to improve. One of those areas is limiting explosive plays, as the Tigers ranked 64th in passing explosiveness allowed and 114th in rushing explosiveness allowed.

Additionally, the Tigers need to improve from a havoc perspective on defense — they ranked 96th in that area one season ago. This unit did not get off to a great start in 2020, allowing a 51% success rate to Arkansas State.

SMU Mustangs

If you like fast-paced offenses, look no further than the Mustangs. SMU ranked third in plays per game in 2019, at 80.9. In its two games vs. FBS opponents in 2020, SMU’s pace has slightly increased to 83 plays per game. The average total score in its 2019 schedule was 75.23. The Mustangs have a boom-or-bust offense.

Although SMU only ranked 68th in success rate in 2019, it ranked 11th in points per play. The Mustangs rank eighth in success rate so far this season, but that comes against a schedule that features Texas State, North Texas, and Stephen F. Austin. Not exactly a schedule that would scare anyone away.

The Mustangs return quarterback Shane Buechele, who finished 34th in yards per attempt in 2019. Through three games in 2020, Buechele ranks 17th in yards per attempt. If the SMU offense can be more efficient on a per-play basis while maintaining the explosiveness, it will be one of the most frightening units in the nation.

Considering the fact that the average total in SMU games was 75.23 in 2019, you probably got the hint that the defense was not exactly a world-beater.

The Mustangs finished 2019 ranked 59th in yards per play allowed, and similarly to Memphis, had problems containing explosive plays. SMU ranked 101st in passing explosiveness allowed, and 89th in rushing explosiveness allowed. This led to a ranking of 77th in opponent points per play.

The Mustangs also struggled against the pass specifically, ranking 88th in opponent yards per attempt. One area where the defense did excel in 2019 was in the havoc department, ranking 12th. So far in 2020, the SMU defense ranks 31st out of 72 teams in terms of defensive success rate, albeit against a very soft schedule to date.


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Betting Analysis & Pick

Unfortunately, there is too much uncertainty for me to get involved in this game with the health status of Memphis still up in the air. I do think the high total of 74 is justified, as I project the total at 75.18. SMU is a lightning bolt on offense in terms of pace, and Memphis is no snail either, ranking in the 66th percentile in plays per game in 2019.

Last season, this matchup was a high-scoring one, with Memphis winning 54-48. Some of the alternate overs look enticing to me at plus money, but I will need more information before I even think about putting a bet in.

My strategy for the game will rely on who is in or out for Memphis, but at this point, I cannot recommend an angle without knowing the depth chart information. Depending on game flow, this could be an opportunity for a live betting angle on the total. If you want, you can follow me in the Action app to get notifications if I do find a live betting opportunity.

Pick: No bet pre-game. Look for a live-betting opportunity on the total after 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

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