The Memphis Tigers and Wake Forest Demon Deacons get Saturday started off in the Birmingham Bowl. There are also three more bowl games on Saturday if you’re looking for some more college football action. We’re getting closer to meaningful games, which will begin next week with the College Football Playoff. It should be a good one, with four capable teams in the CFP.
Expanding to eight teams would be the next likely step, but I doubt that comes soon. No matter how big the playoffs are, there is always going to be controversy about teams not making it. There is controversy every year in college basketball and there are 68 teams. It’d be fun to see eight or sixteen teams, but it doesn’t fix everything.
Memphis and Wake Forest don’t have to worry about playing in the CFP anytime soon. Playing in the ACC, Wake Forest have the better chance of making that happen one day, though they are a far way off. They have some work to do if they want to start thinking about beating elite teams in the ACC. Their best win this season was against NC State as 19.5-point underdogs. They got blown out by Notre Dame and Clemson, two teams in the College Football Playoff, so I’d say there is work to do.
Going to a bowl game is nevertheless a nice accomplishment for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest got a major lift from quarterback Jamie Newman late in the season. The dual-threat QB went into the season as the backup on campus, but hasn’t looked back since starter Sam Hartman got injured. Newman was a breath of fresh air, as the offense immediately found a jolt.
It was on full display in a 59-7 blowout of Duke. Newman passed for 177 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 50 yards rushing. He can be a slippery quarterback that utilizes his legs. Memphis just got exploited by a similar QB against UCF. Darriel Mack Jr., McKenzie Milton’s backup, passed for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns with 59 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns on the ground. We’ll see what Newman has in store for the Memphis defense. Get our free Memphis vs. Wake Forest pick below.
Memphis Tigers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons Birmingham Bowl Betting Odds:
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Memphis vs. Wake Forest Pick:
Just like Mack Jr, Newman is playing because of an injury to the quarterback ahead of him. Neither have had extensive experience, though this is great for next season. Newman will likely go into next season as the starting quarterback, especially if he can end the year with a strong showing against Memphis.
He’s passed for 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in three starts. Hartman had just 16 TD’s when he went down, so Newman is halfway to matching that. He’s also rushed for a total of 156 yards and a touchdown.
Wake Forest also got a big performance out of running back Cade Carney against Duke. He gashed Duke for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns. I think the running ability of Newman opens up some lanes for the running backs as well. Memphis have given up a ton of yards this season, so there should be some opportunities for Wake Forest to put up some big numbers again. They are giving up 170 rushing yards per game and 250.8 passing yards for 85th in the FBS.
The Tigers have allowed 87 points in their last two games. They were without three members of their secondary against UCF, with T.J. Carter, Carlito Gonzalez, and La’Andre Thomas all out. All three defensive backs are questionable entering the Birmingham Bowl.
Highly regarded running back, Darrell Henderson, is preparing for the NFL Draft and will bypass this game. Patrick Taylor Jr. can tout the rock as well, though. Taylor Jr. has rushed for 1,012 yards and 16 touchdowns, along with 196 receiving yards. He will be a nice replacement for Henderson next season.
We’re going to see a preview on Saturday in Birmingham. Expect it to be a promising preview, with Taylor Jr. gashing Wake Forest in this one. The Deacons are 116th in the FBS with 465 yards allowed per game. They’ve gotten better, but haven’t seen an offense like Memphis in weeks. Brady White has tossed 25 touchdowns and 8 interceptions this season. He’s certainly capable of exploiting the 121st best secondary in the country. I could make an argument for both teams to cover here. It could go either way. With that said, there should be plenty of points to put the Birmingham Bowl OVER the total.