Memphis vs

Iowa St.

at Memphis
Fri, Dec 29
12:30 PM Pacific
Rotation: 261
Odds: Iowa St. -7, Total: 57.5

Game Analysis

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Note: This game was the first bowl Best Bet that I released a few weeks ago when the line was -7. Iowa State is now a 10.5 point favorite but there is still value on the Cyclones – just not enough for a Best Bet unless the line drops to -10 (which it might). Strong Opinion at -10.5 or -11.

2-Star Best Bet – **Iowa State (-7)  38   MEMPHIS  21

Memphis is 9-3 but the Tigers are not a good team. Memphis has been outgained in their 11 games against FBS opponents and they have been very fortunate to face a couple of teams that were not close to their best. They played Arkansas State in week 2 before the Red Wolves benched ineffective quarterbacks Shrout and Dailey (combined 3.8 yards per pass play on 71 pass plays) for Raynor (a good runner and passer), and they faced UAB without Jacob Zeno (74% completions) and instead went up against the Blazers #2, #3 and #4 quarterbacks. Memphis still allowed 6.6 yards per play to FBS teams that would combine to average 5.3 yppl against an average team (adjusted for opposing QB’s faced) and today they’ll be without starting S Cameron Smith, who led the team with 3 interceptions and was 2nd in total passes defended with 9.

The Tigers’ offense is only 0.3 yppl better than average but their top two offensive linemen have entered the transfer portal, including LT Makylan Pounders, who gave up just 1 sack all season. I rate the Memphis attack at just 0.1 yppl better than average without their two offensive line stars and that was a conservative adjustment.

Iowa State averaged 6.4 yppl and allowed just 5.1 yppl against a good schedule of teams and rated at 0.9 yppl better than average on both sides of the ball after adjusting for schedule strength. However, the Cyclones are not as good as their very good compensated yards per play differential of +1.8 yppl, as that was skewed by their 16.6 yppl to 4.9 yppl week 13 game against Kansas State in which they had a handful of huge plays. Iowa State has a -11.7 plays per game differential (mostly due to the 31 plays to 102 plays discrepancy in that win at Kansas State), due to the big plays on offense and bend but don’t break defensive philosophy. Iowa State’s compensated line of scrimmage rating for the season is 10.0 points per game better than average, which takes play differential into account, and that rating is +8.6 points after adjusting for outliers, which I do in my model. Memphis, by contrast, has a line of scrimmage rating of -8.4 points (-9.9 without their two OL stars) and had just one higher than average LOS rating all season (+2.2 points in their 4-point loss to a good SMU team).

Iowa State is even better now that Abu Sama has taken over at running back Sama lead the team in rushing by a comfortable margin despite just 72 runs, as he averaged 8.5 ypr. I don’t expect him to maintain that average, but he did average 6.1 ypr even if you exclude the 276 yards on 16 runs against Kansas State. The other two running backs saw the writing on the wall and transferred, which is no loss given their poor production (just 4.3 ypr on 189 runs). The Iowa State run game would be 0.5 yards per run better if you just replaced those 189 runs with the average ypr of all Cyclones’ running backs (5.3 ypr), which is what I decided to do even though it’s very likely that Samu is better than 5.3 ypr given his 6.1 ypr average even without his best game included. The Cyclones’ big play attack should move the ball very well against the horrible Memphis defense while the Memphis offense (+0.3 yppl) is likely to struggle against a very good Iowa State defense that is 0.7 yppl better than average without CB TJ Tampa, who opted out.

My math favors Iowa State by 17 points, even with 2.5 points being given to Memphis for playing in their home stadium – even though Iowa State may have more fans in the stands (they Cyclones have a history of travelling well). The true line is in between the market line and my math model prediction, and I calculate the true line as ISU by 13.6 points (adjusted for the line move) based on the historical performance of my model vs the market line in bowl games. There is still good value on the Cyclones at -10 or less and Iowa State is a 2-Star Best Bet at -7 -120 or better and 1-Star up to -10 points (Strong Opinion at -11).

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Memphis
  • Iowa St.


  • Run Plays 29.8 34.1
  • Run Yards 156.6 196.8
  • YPRP 5.3 5.8


  • Pass Comp 24.4 20.6
  • Pass Att 37.1 33.4
  • Comp % 65.7% 61.6%
  • Pass Yards 291.7 267.2
  • Sacks 1.8 1.6
  • Sack Yards 8.4 11.5
  • Sack % 4.7% 4.4%
  • Pass Plays 38.9 34.9
  • Net Pass Yards 283.4 255.7
  • YPPP 7.3 7.3


  • Total Plays 68.7 69.0
  • Total Yards 440.0 452.5
  • YPPL 6.4 6.6


  • Int 0.7 1.0
  • Int % 2.0% 3.0%
  • Fumbles 0.3 0.7
  • Turnovers 1.0 1.7
  • Points 39.7 29.0
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