Game to be played at Marlins Park, Miami, FL
1. BYU’s explosive offense will get a stiff test from Memphis’ defense, which ranks fifth nationally with an average of 17.1 points allowed. The Tigers did not surrender more than 20 points in any of their victories and ripped through the final six contests yielding 13.3 – all wins. The Cougars put up at least 42 points in each of their final three games.
2. Memphis and BYU had a trio of common opponents as the Cougars secured wins over Middle Tennessee, Connecticut and Houston. The Tigers were edged 28-24 by Houston on Oct. 11 but closed the regular season by ripping UConn 41-10 and eased past Middle Tennessee back in September. Memphis turned over the ball five times in the loss to Houston but suffered its only other two setbacks on the road against nationally ranked teams UCLA and Ole Miss.
3. Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch set a school record with 28 touchdowns (18 passing, 10 rushing) and did not throw an interception during the six-game winning streak that closed the regular season. The Cougars endured a four-game slide and waved goodbye to their hopes of a New Year’s Six bowl when Christian Stewart took over under center for injured starter Taysom Hill and lost his first four starts. Stewart picked up his play in four wins closing the season, recording 14 TD passes and one interception in that span.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: The majority of books opened this game as a Pick, but that has moved to Memphis -1.5. The total opened at 57.5 with that dropping to 56.5.
INJURY REPORT: Cougars – WR Colby Pearson (Out, collarbone), RB Jamaal Williams (Out, knee).
ABOUT BYU (8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS, 8-4 O/U): The Cougars are participating in their 10th straight bowl game and are coming in hot after Stewart’s 433-yard, five-TD performance in a win at California. BYU started the season with a dominant rushing attack led by Hill, whose dual-threat abilities resulted in 975 passing yards and 460 on the ground in his first four games, but had to rebuild around a more traditional pocket passer in Stewart. The Cougars also picked things up on the other side of the ball, limiting their last four opponents to an average of 16.3 points after surrendering 40.8 during the mid-season skid.
ABOUT MEMPHIS (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS, 7-5 O/U): The Tigers’ hot finish left them on top of the AAC and sent the team to its first bowl since 2008. “It’s a big deal,” senior cornerback Bobby McCain told reporters. “It’s big for the city, it’s big for the team and the family of brothers that we have here. To have a 10-win season is something that’s never been done before. Now we just have to go 1-0 one more time and end it with a bang.” McCain is part of a secondary that recorded 14 interceptions during the regular season and held opposing passers to an average of 218 yards.
* Cougars are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games.
* Tigers are 3-13 ATS in their last 16 games on grass.
* Under is 6-2 in Cougars last eight bowl games.
* Under is 6-2 in Tigers last eight non-conference games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 51 percent of bettors are on BYU.