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Preview & Predictions: Memphis vs Missouri

For the fifth time in school history, the Memphis Tigers face the Missouri Tigers. Memphis lost their last 2 meetings against Missouri as their last bout was in 2018 losing definitively 65-33. Both teams are unbeaten and coming off dramatic wins last week as they look to carry over their early season momentum. 

The Missouri Tigers open as -6.5 favorites but potentially face a huge blow as starting quarterback Brady Cook is questionable this week with a knee injury.  

Memphis Offense vs. Missouri Defense 

Devin LaTulippe: Missouri has a prototypical SEC defense, including a dominant defensive line.

Missouri’s defense pressured Kansas State at will. Picking up blitzes and making correct adjustments versus the blitz is something Memphis has struggled with this season. Head coach Ryan Silverfield should expect Missouri to blitz heavily.

This is not unorthodox for Missouri as they often send five, six, or even seven rushers against Kansas State. Not only do they have a dominant defensive line, but their secondary is electric. Memphis can expect zone blitzes similar to what we saw against Navy. The only difference is the talent level of the opponent. Be on the lookout for Missouri's defensive line as a unit, they are game destroyers. 

Kenneth Miller: Memphis found its running game last week and it came at the perfect time. Memphis is going to need another massive game from Blake Watson to help take the burden off the passing game.

Memphis needs to use the perimeter rush game to avoid the size mismatch in the middle. Do not be surprised to see Seth Hennigan scramble more on Saturday to avoid the pressure that Missouri will send. As for the passing game, conceptually it should look similar to the Navy game. 

We could see a few more screen passes from Silverfield to take advantage of the blitz, but the short passing game is going to be the bulk of the offense. Anthony Landphere needs to be incorporated in the offense as hitting him for easy 13-yard gains is vital for keeping the offense on track. 

Matt Miller: The high-powered Memphis offense comes in averaging 40 points per game.  

Memphis comes in strong as running back Blake Watson is coming off a huge game against Navy with 169 rushing yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Seth Henigan looks to make a statement as he averages over 260 passing yards a game.  

They should have a balance of being able to run the ball effectively and pass it as well. The offensive line will be a huge factor this Saturday to open the gameplan. They will need to be able to get running back Blake Watson going and be able to protect their quarterback Seth Henigan giving him enough time to throw the ball. 

Memphis Defense vs Missouri Offense 

Devin LaTulippe: Missouri's passing attack is a terrifying force for defenses to see. Missouri thus far in the season cannot be stopped when going through the air. They run a modern-day pro-style offense, which means they will be exclusively in shotgun or spreading out the offense to put 4 or 5 receivers on the field.

Unfortunately for Missouri, their star quarterback Brady Cook is questionable for Saturday’s game. If Cook is under center, Memphis better look out as they are not afraid to let the ball fly. They will take long shots over the top, and they have the firepower to do so. Freshman Sam Horn could get the start if Cooks is not able to go. Memphis can expect much of the same with Horn, but simpler looks and less effective play.

Either way, Memphis needs to be ready for the pass. Memphis must be prepared for star receiver Luther Burden III. He is the best receiver Memphis has faced and can make it a terrible day for secondaries. Not only is he a fantastic ball catcher and route runner, but his ability to gain yards after the catch and create missed tackles is special. Memphis is in for a long day if he is not contained.   

Kenneth Miller: This game is strength on strength with Memphis secondary versus Missouri wide receivers. 

Memphis leads the nation in fewest passing yards per game and if the secondary comes to play, Memphis will put a lot of stress on Missouri’s QB to make perfect throws. Memphis has not been tested much deep down the field this season, so it will be interesting to see how they respond against a downfield passing attack in Missouri.  

Memphis is not going to be able to play man coverage all game due to the threat the Missouri wide receivers pose toward Memphis linebackers. I’d expect a good amount of Cover 3 to keep Missouri from being able to burn the secondary over the top as they did against Kansas State.  

This means Memphis must tackle better this week. The number of missed tackles against Navy was an alarming sight that cannot continue against Missouri. If Memphis wants to win this game, they have to cut down on the missed tackles otherwise Missouri’s athletic ability will win out.  

Missouri doesn’t have much of a running game but that doesn’t mean Memphis won’t be challenged on the ground. The linebackers Chandler Martin and Geoffrey Cantin-Aku need to be difference makers as they need to be making plays close to the line of scrimmage to prevent another big rushing game from the Memphis opponent. 

Matt Miller: The Memphis defense comes in only allowing around 14 points a game, but Missouri averages 30 points a game. The game plan for Missouri’s offense will be their passing.  

Brady Cook passed for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns last game. Even with Cook potentially not playing, Sam Horn should have no problem as they have star receiver Luther Burden. Burden is coming off back-to-back 100+ receiving yard games and looks to make it three straight games this upcoming Saturday. 

The game plan going into Saturday should be focusing on wide receiver Luther Burden III. The Memphis secondary will have to play a great game against Missouri’s receiving core.  

Keys to a Memphis Victory 

Devin LaTulippe: Tackle Missouri after the catch  

One of the most frustrating things to watch is a defense reading the play, getting to the ball on time, but not making the tackle.  

Missed tackles were a massive problem in the Navy game, which resulted in chunk plays against Memphis. The Memphis defense gave up way too many extra yards and points. Memphis cannot do this against Missouri, they are too good.  

It is a lot to ask for Memphis to simply stop Missouri, but tackling them should not be as big of a problem as it is. Missouri is by far a tougher matchup than Navy. If Memphis wants to win this game, they need to limit yards after catch and keep Missouri’s offense on the bench.  

Kenneth Miller: Hit the Intermediate Throws  

Missouri is an aggressive defensive team that is going to come after the passer. While it would be perfect timing to test their defense deep, it’s highly unlikely the Memphis offensive line will be able to hold up long enough.  

However, the throws from 10-15 yards should be there if Seth Henigan can hit them. Unfortunately, that part of the offense has been inconsistent so far this season. Henigan has struggled with accuracy in that area of the field, and he needs to hit those throws if Memphis expects to find any success offensively. 

Game Predictions  

Devin LaTulippe: Given what we have seen from both these teams, I predict Missouri to be too much for Memphis and win 31-20.   

Kenneth Miller: This could end up being a low-scoring game as both defenses should end up being top-25 units in college football, but with the more experienced quarterback Memphis will pull out a statement victory for the program. I have Memphis winning 24-20. 

Matt Miller: It will be a close game between both teams, especially with the potential of Brady Cook being inactive for Missouri. I have Memphis defeating Missouri 27-21. 

Game Time 

The battle of two undefeateds kicks off at 6:30 from the American Center, in St Louis. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. The spread is currently Missouri –6.5, and the over-under is set at 51.5.    

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