Mercer Bears (0-0) at Memphis Tigers (0-0)
|Date & Time||Saturday September 1, 2018, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Memphis Tigers -26 -- Over/Under: 65.5
The Mercer Bears and Memphis Tigers meet Saturday in college football action at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
The Mercer Bears are coming off a five-win season and are expected to be one of the better teams in the SoCon this season, behind Samford and Wofford. Kaelan Riley returns at quarterback after throwing for more than 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he could be a real difference maker if he makes better decisions with the football. Tee Mitchell returns at running back after seven rushing touchdowns while Marquise Irvin will once again lead the receiving department. Depth is a question with this Mercer offense, but there’s enough returning starters to keep this side of the ball competitive. Defensively, Mercer returns four of its top five tacklers from last season, and Isaiah Buehler and Lemarkus Bailey are two of the better players at their respective positions in the Southern Conference. The Mercer Bears are a dark horse contender to win this conference as long as they can get improved and more consistent play at the quarterback position.
The Memphis Tigers has won no less than eight games and made a bowl appearance each of the last four years and remains a contender in the AAC. The bad news is Memphis won’t have the explosive playmakers of wide receiver Anthony Miller and quarterback Riley Ferguson, but a combination of running backs Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor give the Tigers one of the best rushing attacks in the country. Memphis is also experienced along the offensive line with four of five starts returning. The success comes down to if David Moore is ready to step up at quarterback after just 10 pass attempts last season. Defensively, Memphis has a long way to go but does return eight starters, including their top two tacklers in Curtis Akins and Austin Hall. T.J. Carter is also a stud cornerback after producing five interceptions last season as a freshman. The Memphis Tigers have won their season opener in each of the last four seasons.
The Tigers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games. The over is 6-1 in Tigers last 7 non-conference games and 11-2 in Tigers last 13 home games.
The Mercer Bears hung around with Auburn on the road last season while earning wins over The Citadel and Western Carolina, so this is a squad that can hold its own in big games. The problem is the Memphis Tigers will once again be a highly productive offensive team and you need to keep up to have a chance. Mercer is hit or miss scoring wise and has a quarterback who can make shaky decisions with the football. Not being able to keep up with the Tigers offensive production will be the reason for the loss and probably a blowout.