Montgomery Bowl Betting Preview: Can FAU Owls Slow Down Memphis Tigers?

The college football American Athletic Conference was dominated by Cincinnati this season, but the conference was home to a number of teams who posted solid seasons. One of those teams is Memphis, who will take on Florida Atlantic in the first inaugural Montgomery Bowl looking to win their eighth game of the season. The Tigers (7-3, 5-3 AAC) take on the Owls (5-3, 4-2 Conference USA) Wednesday evening, with the game kicking off at 7 pm ET/6 pm local time on ESPN. Memphis is favored by more than a touchdown at Bovada, while the total for the game is set at 50.5.

The Tigers lost coach Mike Norvell to Florida State after a stellar season in 2019, in which they went 12-2 and reached the Cotton Bowl. Their recent run of success has continued under first-year coach Ryan Silverfield, and the same can be said for Florida Atlantic, who saw coach Lane Kiffin depart for Ole Miss after an excellent 2019 campaign but has had a solid first season under Willie Taggart.

Here’s a look at both teams and the factors that could be key to the game and for bettors who might want to put some money on the action in Montgomery.

Memphis Tigers Betting News & Notes

Quarterback Brady White was a big part of Memphis’ great season last year, throwing for over 4,000 yards and over 30 touchdowns. While his completion percentage has dropped this season, from 64 percent last season to 60.1 percent this season, it’s still been a very good year for White, who has thrown for 3,096 yards and 28 touchdowns. White threw 22 of those touchdown passes in his first six games, with his performances over the last four games having dropped off. In those four games, White has completed only 56.6 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns compared to four interceptions.

The ground game was a big part of Memphis’ recent success, but it has not been as productive this season. The Tigers average 141.2 rushing yards per game, down from 186.7 last season. Notably, that production comes at a clip of only 3.9 yards per carry.

Things have been a struggle on the defensive side of the ball as well. Memphis has allowed 29.7 points and 448.7 yards per game. The pass defense ranks as one of the worst in the country, allowing 303 yards per game to rank 122nd out of 127 FBS teams. Defensive back Quindell Johnson leads the team in tackles with 70 and has picked off three passes. One bright spot defensively is defensive lineman Morris Joseph, Jr., who has broken out with 43 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and eight sacks this season.

Florida Atlantic Betting News & Notes

Last season, FAU went 11-3, led by a prolific offense that averaged well over 30 points and nearly 450 yards per game. This season, the defense has led the way, while the offense has not flourished.

Defensively, the Owls have been one of the better units in the country, allowing 16.5 points per game, which is ninth in FBS, and 326.4 yards per game, which is 16th in FBS. Leading the way defensively is linebacker Leighton McCarthy, who has 40 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and nine sacks this season, and defensive end Jaylen Joiner, who has 34 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and six sacks. All told, the Owls have 57 tackles for loss and 25 sacks in their eight games.

On the other side of the coin, the Owls have been one of the nation’s worst teams offensively. They come into their bowl game averaging only 20 points per game, which is 112th in FBS, and 328.9 yards per game, which is 110th in FBS. That’s in a large part due to a passing attack that went from being one of the nation’s more prolific passing offenses in 2019 behind Chris Robison to producing only 143.6 yards per game through the air this season. However, if there is a positive for FAU offensively, it is the ground game, which averages a very respectable 185.3 yards per game.

Montgomery Bowl Betting Odds & Information

Spread: Memphis -9.5 (-105), Florida Atlantic +9.5 (-115)

Moneyline: Memphis -330, Florida Atlantic +265

Total: Over 50.5 (-110), Under 50.5 (-110)

Odds provided by Bovada

Key Trends & Stats

  • Florida Atlantic has allowed 20 or more points only three times this season. All three times were in losses, a 20-9 loss at Marshall (10/24), a 20-3 loss Georgia Southern (12/5), and a 45-31 loss at Southern Mississippi in their regular-season finale.
  • Memphis has been held to 20 points or fewer only two times this season. One time was in a loss, a 49-10 loss at Cincinnati on October 31. The other time was in a 10-7 win at Navy (11/28).
  • Memphis has allowed 20 or fewer points only twice this season, in the win over Navy and a 56-14 win over FCS member Stephen F. Austin (11/21).
  • Memphis has allowed 30 or more points five times this season. The Tigers are 2-3 when they allow 30 or more points.
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Ryan
A sports enthusiast, Ryan helps cover sports betting news from around the country, highlighting some of the more interesting events going on in the USA.