Mississippi State Eyeing Sixth Straight Season-Opening Victory
Only a few years ago Memphis was making three straight trips to the American Athletic Conference title games with the Tigers winning the conference title in 2019. During the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Mississippi State won 17 games and lost four games by seven points or less. The expectations are significantly lower when these two schools get together. The odds are at -145 for Memphis to go under 7 1/2 wins during the regular season while they come in at -155 for Mississippi State to surpass 6 1/2 victories. Still, the Memphis vs Mississippi State odds have the Bulldogs favored by 16 points.
Both teams struggled a bit down the stretch a season ago with each of them dropping three of the final five games. The return of productive starting quarterbacks is key for both teams.
Memphis (+1400) is fifth in the odds to win the American Athletic Conference while Mississippi State (+12500) is 12th in the SEC championship odds.
Memphis vs Mississippi State Game Information
- Matchup: Memphis 6-6 (3-5 in the American Athletic Conference in 2021) Mississippi State 7-6 (4-4 in the SEC in 2021)
- Location: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi
- TV: ESPNU
Youth Will be Served With 2022 Memphis Tigers
Just five seniors are listed on the offensive depth chart for Memphis with two of them (Matt Dale and Austin Myers) forming the right side of the offensive line. There is only slightly more experience on the defensive side of the ball. That is playing a factor in the Memphis vs Mississippi State odds favoring the host Bulldogs.
Seth Henigan is back at quarterback after passing for 3,322 yards and 25 touchdowns as a freshman. The electrifying Calvin Austin is gone as is tight end Sean Dykes so new favorite receivers will need to be found. Memphis wasn’t too active on the transfer portal, but the addition of Jay Drucker, who ran for 1,184 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carrying at Northern Illinois a season ago, should help the offense.
The defense will look much different from the 2021 squad. Sophomore cornerback Greg Rubin is a homegrown talent who figures to be busy in this one as should teammate Cameron Smith.
Memphis was eighth in the American Athletic Conference in passing defense and tied for eighth in turnovers forced and those are dangerous numbers against a Mississippi State offense. Only five teams struggled to get off the field on third down more than Memphis during the 2021 season and that will be a point of emphasis after allowing opponents to convert on 48% of third downs last year.
Rogers Back to Lead Mississippi State’s Pass-Happy Offense
Only Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe attempted more passes during the 2021 season than Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers did. Rogers helped Mississippi State lead the SEC team stats in passing yards per game.
Rogers didn’t just throw the ball early and often, he completed 74% of his passes. He will certainly miss leading receiver Makai Polk but considering all the times that a Mike Leach-coached offense has led the county in passing yards, look for another huge year from Rogers. His return is a major reason that the Memphis vs Mississippi State odds are so heavily slanted towards the Bulldogs.
Jaden Walley (55 catches, 628 yards) and Austin Williams (52 catches, 617 yards) both return. Running backs Dillon Johnson and Jo’quavious Marks are coming back after combining for 901 rushing yards, 10 touchdown runs, and 148 receptions.
Mississippi State returns 11 of its top 14 tacklers.
Leading tackler Jeff Johnson and Nate Watson lead the list of returnees after they had 87 and 84 tackles a season ago. Watson added five sacks. Add in Tyrus Wheat (team-high six sacks) and the Bulldogs have the makings of a solid group of linebackers.
The secondary should be aided by the arrival of former West Virginia cornerback Jackie Matthews (43 tackles, 6½ tackles for loss a season ago), as well as Jordan Morant (Michigan), Hunter Washington (Florida State), and Marcus Banks (Alabama), who all transferred in.
Memphis vs Mississippi State Head to Head
Memphis topped Mississippi State 31-29 on Sept. 18, 2021, despite 419 passing yards from Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers. Calvin Austin scored three touchdowns, although, after the game, it was announced that Austin’s 94-yard punt return for a touchdown should have been blown dead before Austin picked up the ball.
It was the first meeting between the teams in a decade. Mississippi State had won the previous nine games and covered the last six.
Memphis has won its last two games against SEC teams and is covered in each of those contests. Before that, the Tigers had dropped 15 of their last 16 contests against SEC programs.
Memphis vs Mississippi State Injury Update
College Football injuries linebacker Bryce Edmondson, kicker David Kemp, and receiver Eric Rivers are out indefinitely for Memphis.
Memphis vs Mississippi State Betting Preview
This is the first time Memphis has been a double-digit underdog since a 2016 game against Ole Miss when the Tigers lost 48-28 at 15.5-point underdogs according to the NCAA college football spreads. The year before Memphis topped Ole Miss 37-24 as a 10-point underdog.
Ryan Silverfield of Memphis and Mike Leach of Mississippi State are both in their third season at their respective schools. Silverfield has the best record (14-10) compared to an 11-13 mark for Leach.
This will mark the first time since being promoted to head coach that Silverfield will lead Memphis against a team from a Power-5 Conference.
Memphis has failed to cover in each of its last nine road games and has lost its last five road games against Mississippi State.
The total has gone under in 13 of Mississippi State’s last 17 home games.
The 16-point line seems a little on the high side considering that Mississippi State only won two games by at least 16 points in 2021 and one of them came against FCS for Tennessee State. The 57-point line seems like a solid number when looking at the fact that the last three times Memphis was an underdog, the game ended with less than 57 points scored.Follow us on Twitter