|Over 55 (-110) @ sportsinteraction|
My selection is on the 'over' between Navy and Memphis at 7:30 pm et on Thursday.
While some will look at this matchup and see a high posted total given Navy's reputation for running the football and eating clock in the process, I believe the number will prove too low. I simply feel this game has big-play potential from start to finish and projects as precisely the shootout the oddsmakers are expecting. Of course, last year's matchup between the Midshipmen and Tigers fizzed, ending with just 17 total points despite the total being set in the mid-60's. I expect a different story to unfold here. Navy has had a miserable time trying to stop opposing offenses, whether it's on the ground or through the air. The Middies check into this one allowing 8.3 yards per pass and 5.7 yards per rush. Their depth on defense has been seriously tested as they lost two of their five best defenders earlier in the season, Tama Tuitele (transfer portal) and Mitchell West (season-ending knee injury). While they haven't been truly boat-raced since their season-opening 49-7 rout at the hands of Marshall, they have allowed at least 28 points in each of their last three games. Two weeks ago against a comparable offense to the one they'll face on Thursday, they gave up three touchdown drives in the game's first 29 minutes against Central Florida. Memphis poses a stiff challenge with an offense that has been highly-consistent and explosive at times this season. QB Seth Henigan isn't afraid to bomb away and he should find plenty of success throwing on an average Navy secondary. Henigan has attempted 97 passes in the Tigers last two games, throwing for nearly 800 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has some mobility and should give the Middies plenty of headaches on Thursday night. The fact that Asa Martin, a key transfer at running back, has only had 14 carries for the Tigers this season is telling. The Memphis backfield is brimming with talent and with a steady rotation should be able to stay fresh and excel against an undersized Navy defensive front. On the flip side, few teams have stuck with the run against Memphis this season but we know the Midshipmen will with their triple-option attack. Navy hogged the time of possession last year, churning out well over 200 rush yards on north of 50 attempts against the Tigers last season. Here, I look for Navy to hit a few more home runs and perhaps not put together as many of those long, clock-churning drives. We saw some leaks in the Memphis run defense last week as it was torched for 235 yards on 44 attempts - good for well over 5.0 yards per rush - and three touchdowns against Tulsa. Playing on a short week here, I don't expect there to be any quick fixes. Take the over (10*).
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