2023 Liberty Bowl – Memphis vs Iowa St

2023 Liberty Bowl – Memphis vs Iowa St

posted December 22

The Game

Let’s head down to the HOME OF THE BLUES and the BIRTHPLACE OF ROCK N’ ROLL and take in the Liberty Bowl as the Iowa St Cyclones battle the Memphis Tigers. Iowa St (7-5) has to be thrilled with making a bowl game after the program was rocked by a gambling scandal of sorts during the summer months. Players have certainly learned that if you wanna play on-line Keno or YANK on Vinnie Barbarino whilst playing the WELCOME BACK, KOTTER slots you better make sure to keep it a secret. Memphis (9-3) was right in the hunt for a spot in the AAC Championship Game until the 2nd last game of the regular season when they lost to the eventual champs from SMU. They’ve got a shot to bag a double-digit win season for the first time under HC Ryan Silverfield.

The Details

Iowa St -9.5 Memphis (57.5)


“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: Iowa St 33.5 Memphis 24

Iowa St offense vs Memphis defense

The Cyclones were fairly mediocre on offense during the regular season (#96 FBS rushing offense, #60 passing) but it’s important to note that they scored 40+ in two of their final three games (BYU, Kansas St). QB Rocco Becht has improved with experience and he sported a nifty 11-3 TD to INT mark in his L7G. Becht will be happy to see that (as far as we know) he’ll have his top-two WRs playing in this game that have each booked over 700 receiving yards (Higgins, Noel). Two of the Cyclones’ top-three RBs have flown the coop but Abu Sama leads the team in rushing (276 yards vs Kansas St) and he averages an impossible 8.5 YPC. The Tigers are definitely not known for their defense (#95 FBS run D, #83 pass efficiency D) so we expect Iowa St to get into the 30s in this game.

Memphis offense vs Iowa St defense

The Tigers can definitely SCORE the FOOTBALL (39.7 PPG, #7 FBS) and they do most of their damage thru the air behind their talented QB Seth Henigan (3,519, 28-9 TD to INT, 8.0 YPA). It appears as we approach press time that Memphis will have all their key weaponry participating in this game including ace WR duo Roc Taylor and Demeer Blankumsee who’ve combined for over 1,800 receiving yards and 10 TDs so far this season. They’ll also have star RB Blake Watson in the mix and all he’s done this year is rush for over 1,000 yards (14 TD) and catch 50 (!) balls for 458 yards and 3 TD. The FLY in the OINTMENT is the fact that Memphis will be missing a pair of key starters on the offensive line and that’ll make things even more difficult when facing a stout Iowa St defense that’ll have most of their important players playing in this game. Iowa St ranks #34 in the nation in run defense and #10 (!) in pass efficiency D (55%, 17-16 TD to INT).

Trends, Intangibles and More!

Memphis HC Ryan Silverfield is 2-1 in bowl games including last year’s pasting of Utah St in the First Responder Bowl (W 38-10)…..Iowa St HC Matt Campbell is 4-4 in bowl games (2-3 with Iowa St) and he’s lost three of the last four…..Memphis is playing in their HOME stadium for this game…..There will be a lot of Iowa St fans in attendance but there’s something to be said for playing in familiar surroundings…..Memphis has played the #108 schedule according to the Sagarin ratings whilst the Cyclones have traversed the #9 docket.


Memphis definitely has the firepower to hang around and they could make the game very interesting if they get hot for a few drives in a row. We just can’t ignore the fact that Iowa St has a yuuuge edge when it comes to defense and they’ve been more battle-tested throughout the course of the season. Slight preference to the dog but we’d want +10 or better before considering a stab.


No leanage for now.

‘Official play’ implies this pick is one of our favorites of the week (perceived value, match-up, coaching, trends, etc.). We’re currently playing these picks for the same amount as the leans but it’s up to you how you want to manage your bankroll. Please see the Week in Review posts for more detail.

‘Lean’ implies we are placing a wager on the game.

‘No leanage’ implies we won’t have any action on the game.

Team totalsWe list the implied number based on the point spread and total when our analysis is posted. If a team total ends up being an official play we will post a widely available number at the time of pick release.