Cotton Bowl Predictions: Memphis Tigers

Perhaps it isn’t the most exciting NY6 game of this year’s bowl game slate, but the Memphis-Penn State is an intriguing one.

Memphis has had numerous departures since winning the American Athletic Conference, including their head coach, Mike Norvell, who has since occupied the vacancy at Florida State. How will they respond to such turnover? Meanwhile, the Penn State Nittany Lions will be without their offensive coordinator, Ricky Rahne, though he has been replaced. How will the offense look under interim OC, Tyler Bowen, who came over with Joe Moorhead years ago. As always when looking at bowl games, the question must be asked, who is more motivated? It would appear that Memphis has more to play for, but if the Nittany Lions consider this the beginning of their 2020 Playoff run, then maybe Penn State plays more inspired.

Brandon Musso (11-1) & (6-6) vs. The Spread

This is obviously not the Rose Bowl that the majority of Penn State fans wanted but it is still a New Year’s 6 bowl. The Cotton Bowl is nothing to scoff at as it is still prestigious in its own right. If the players were in anyway disappointed that they weren’t headed to Pasadena, they will need to shake it off and concentrate on the game at hand. 

It certainly sounds like Sean Clifford will be healthy enough to play but if he can’t this game will be a whole lot more interesting. Aside from him, it will be a real test for Tyler Bowen who was tasked with calling plays for the bowl game after the departure of offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne.

On the other hand, Memphis is short handed as they already lost a few coaches. Head coach Mike Norvell is already gone to take the Florida State job and he has taken a couple of his assistant coaches with him. It should be interesting to see how they play without them. 

This is what I believe to be the key to the game. Will Memphis be organized enough to be able to beat Penn State? They have been a good team all year which is why I don’t believe this will be an easy test for Penn State. I think this game stays close and comes down to the final few minutes. 

Penn State: 31 Memphis: 28

Kraigen Rasalla (11-1) & (4-8) vs. The Spread

The third New Year’s Six Bowl in the last four seasons will wrap up Penn State’s 2019 season. With a victory, the Nittany Lions will claim their third 11-win season in the last four years, as well.

In the Memphis Tigers, Penn State will face a team that went 12-1 in the regular season and won the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers are known for their prolific offense. They averaged over 40 points per game and finished 8th in the country in scoring offense.

QB Brady White threw for over 3,500 yards to go along with a TD to INT ratio of 33:9. RB Kenny Gainwell proved to be one of the best backs in the country, as well. He ran for 1,425 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is also a huge threat as a receiver out of the backfield. Gainwell was second on the Tigers in receptions with 44 catches.

But, Memphis will be missing several key pieces from their successful 2019 season. Head Coach Mike Norvell moved on to Florida State. Ryan Silverfield will serve as the interim coach for the bowl game. Starting RT Scottie Dill has moved on from the program and will not play in the 2019 Cotton Bowl. Starting TE Joey Magnifico will also miss the game with an unspecified injury. He caught 20 passes in 2019.

With Memphis undergoing some change since the beginning of this month, it is tough to fully know what to expect from them on Saturday.

But, I’m taking Penn State because I know what to expect from them. Even with Tyler Bowen serving as the interim OC, Penn State will continue to try to produce explosive plays. With KJ Hamler continuing to mull his NFL Draft decision, I expect him to be heavily involved in the offense throughout the day.

Penn State: 33 Memphis: 21

Cory Lestochi (9-3) & (5-7) vs. The Spread

I only see this game going two ways: a Penn State blowout or a close win by Memphis. With all of the changes that Memphis has seen in the past month, I am going to take the more consistent team. Penn State gets the playmakers some space, and while Memphis has a lot of talent on the offensive end, I like Pry’s defense when he has a month to prepare. As long as they are motivated, Penn State comfortably. Magic number is 30 points.

Penn State: 34   Memphis: 20

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