Iowa State and Memphis will match up in the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl. With the Big 12 and the AAC playing each other, it will be competitive. Here is the 2017 AutoZone Liberty Bowl preview:
Iowa State Cyclones (7-5)
Matt Campbell has successfully turned Iowa State around and gotten them to a bowl game for the first time since 2012. The Cyclones got to seven wins by beating four bowl eligible teams. They won games over Oklahoma and TCU for their most notable victories of the season.
The offense averages 29.9 points per game, which is impressive given the changes the team has had to go through this season. Running the ball hasn’t been easy for the Cyclones, who rank 113th in the country. David Montgomery is the primary running back and has 1,094 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. No one else really produces on the ground for Iowa State, so it all rides on Montgomery.
Kyle Kempt was forced into the fire against Oklahoma and has been solid ever since. In seven games he has 1,473 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions on 66.8% completion. Wide receiver Allen Lazard is one of the best receivers in the Big 12 and has 799 receiving and nine touchdowns. He is very difficult to cover and sometimes double teams don’t even work.
The Iowa State defense has been really solid, allowing 21.0 points per game. They rank 31st against the run and 82nd against the pass. Linebacker Joel Lanning is a former quarterback who has turned into a star at linebacker. He has 110 total tackles, five sacks and one interception.
20 Memphis Tigers (10-2)
Memphis only had two losses on the season, with both coming to undefeated UCF. They have solid wins over UCLA, Navy, Houston and SMU. The Tigers have a solid program that is playing in its fourth straight bowl game.
They have one of the best offenses in the country that averages 47.8 points per game. The running game averages 209.1 yards per game. Darrell Henderson leads the rushing attack with 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns. His backup, Patrick Taylor Jr., has 798 rushing yards and 13 scores.
While the running game is solid, the passing game is what makes the offense great. Quarterback Riley Ferguson is one of the best in the country. He has 3,971 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 63% this season. His top receiver is one of the best in college football as well. Anthony Miller has 1,407 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. The two have made plenty of highlights and have good chemistry.
The defense isn’t as good, allowing 33.4 points per game. They rank 99th against the run and 121st against the pass this season. Linebackers Curtis Atkins and Austin Hall rack up the tackles for the Tigers. Hall has 62 solo tackles, while Atkins has 56.
Memphis is one of the few teams that gets to stay at home for their bowl game. That paired with the fact that they have an explosive offense should be enough to get them the victory. Ferguson and Miller will connect a lot for big plays.
Memphis Tigers 43 Iowa State Cyclones 34
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