Wake Forest-Memphis Betting Guide: Each Team Missing Key Weapon For 2018 Birmingham Bowl
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Greg Dortch and John Pop Williams
2018 Birmingham Bowl Betting Odds: Wake Forest-Memphis
- Odds: Memphis -3
- Over/Under: 73
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 22
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
>> All odds as of Friday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets.
Memphis and Wake Forest have the third-highest over/under of bowl season, but might each be without their best offensive weapons.
Memphis running back Darrell Henderson is gone to prep for the NFL Draft, while Wake wide receiver Greg Dortch is out with a finger injury suffered in the Demon Deacons’ season finale.
Will the Tigers’ running game remain its biggest strength, or will Wake’s end-of-season run propel it to bowl victory?
Odds Movement for Wake Forest-Memphis
By Danny Donahue
Early action on Memphis moved this line up from -4 up to -6. Since then, more money has come in on Wake Forest to bring the line down. While both sides have seen close to 50% of bets, the 62% of dollars behind the Deacons have been enough to move their line back to +3.
A similar back-and-forth has taken place with the total. While early action raised the number up as high as 74.5, sharp bettors have stepped in and pushed it down to 73. Only 36% of bets are on the under, but they’ve accounted for 52% of dollars wagered.
Trends to Know for Birmingham Bowl
By John Ewing
Wake Forest finished the season 6-6. Teams with a .500 or worse record have gone 80-60-2 (57%) against the spread in bowl games since 2005 according to our data from Bet Labs.
By Evan Abrams
We’ve finally made it. The first bowl game this season with an over/under in the 70’s.
Since 2005, the over is 20-16 (55.6%) in bowl games with a total of 70 or more, going over the total by 2.7 points per game. When two teams meet in that spot both scored 40 points or more in their last game entering the bowl, the over is hitting by 6.8 points per game.
Can Wake Get a Red Zone Stop?
The Wake Forest defense was absolutely atrocious in the red zone all season long, allowing teams to score on a shocking 94.6% of trips (only ECU allowed a higher clip). Teams punched it in the end zone 30-of-37 times. Memphis is tied for 16th in red zone offense at 90%, including a near 75% clip at finding pay dirt.
How much will that red zone efficiency go down without Henderson, the program’s first ever unanimous All-American? The importance of Henderson’s loss can not be understated.
The future NFL back finished second in the nation in rushing yards, third in average at a silly 8.9 yards, tied for first in touchdowns (22) and led the nation in scrimmage yards per game.
Without him, will Memphis see a drop off in its rushing attack that finished No. 1 overall in explosiveness. Wake certainly hopes so as it ranked 99th defending rush explosiveness.
What Does Memphis Have Behind Henderson?
By Steve Petrella
It’s impossible to replace a back like Henderson right away. But Memphis has a solid offensive line that should still help move the ball on Wake.
Patrick Taylor Jr. had 1,012 yards (5.7 per carry), 15 touchdowns and a better efficiency rating than Henderson, albeit much less explosiveness. Tony Pollard had 443 yards (7.3 per carry) and better efficiency metrics than both.
Pace, Pace, Pace
These are two of the fastest teams in the country in terms of pace.
Wake ranks third in plays per minute; Memphis is 25th. Both teams rank in the top eight in possessions per game. That’s a big reason why this total is so high.
Who’s More Motivated?
I give the edge to Wake.
Even though Wake has won bowl games each of the past two seasons, while Memphis has lost both under current head coach Mike Norvell, I think the Demon Deacons will be more up for this game after how each of the two respective seasons ended.
Memphis suffered a fourth loss in two seasons to UCF and its second straight conference championship loss, even with a huge lead and no McKenzie Milton playing for the Knights.
Meanwhile, Wake Forest’s bowl hopes looked dead in the water before they pulled out two huge road upsets over the final three games to get to six wins. I think Dave Clawson will have this group ready to play.
And while Wake won two of its final three games on the road against bowl teams (and one earlier in the year against a Tulane), Memphis only defeated one bowl team all season: Houston in its regular season finale in a game it blew up late against a Cougar team playing its backup quarterback.
Bet to Watch
By Collin Wilson
The loss of Henderson cannot be understated. The Memphis workhorse averaged 8.9 yards per carry with a highlight yards per opportunity of 12.15. That is one of the best in the nation in a stat that looks at how often Henderson generated big plays on the ground.
Even with backup Patrick Taylor Jr. having more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, the explosiveness factor will be missing from the Memphis ground attack. With an adjustment for Henderson, The Action Network power ratings make this game Memphis -3.5, around where the spread is now.
It has been an up and down season for Wake Forest, starting with the three game suspension of 2017 quarterback Kendall Hinton. Freshman Sam Hartman was steady in holding the position most of the season with a 16-8 touchdown to interception ratio.
After an injury to Hartman, Wake Forest played the majority of November under Jamie Newton, who posted a better completion rate in 101 attempts. Newton’s best performance came in the bowl-clinching victory over Duke, when he went 18-of-23 for 177 yards with four touchdowns.
I will take the Demon Deacons in what should be a shootout. Memphis’ track record against competent passing offenses has led to their losses this season. Those games include Central Florida (twice), Missouri and Tulane.
Collin’s Pick: Wake Forest +3.5