The Memphis Tigers will host the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks to open up the 2017 season. Kickoff is set for 9:00 EST at the Liberty Bowl on Thursday, August 31st. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

Want to place a wager on this one? Our Week 1 odds show Memphis currently listed as a massive 27-point favorite with the total set at 67 points.

Memphis vs ULM Vegas Betting Odds & Game Preview

There were some concerns that Memphis would take a big step back in 2016. That’s because they lost head coach Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech and star quarterback Paxton Lynch was playing in the NFL. The Tigers didn’t miss a beat going 8-5 with a 5-3 record in the American.

Now that head coach Mike Norvell has proven himself, expectations are sky high in 2017. Memphis returns 15 starters, including star quarterback Riley Ferguson. This is one of the most experienced teams in the country. Combine that with the talent and continuity in year-two under Norvell and it’s easy to see why some are picking this team to win the AAC.

Things aren’t going as well for the Warhawks. ULM’s 4-8 record last year marked their 3rd straight losing campaign. Last year’s struggles came in the first season under head coach Matt Viator, who is trying to translate his success from the FCS to the FBS level. Viator posted a 78-33 record in 10 seasons at McNeese State.

Like Memphis, Louisiana-Monroe has a lot of experience to fall back in 2017. The Warhawks return 15 starters (7 offense, 8 defense). That could speed up the rebuilding process. Players should have a much better understanding of the schemes that were installed last year. The big question is can they overcome another brutal schedule.

Free College Football ATS Predictions: Memphis -27

If I had to take a side early in this one, I would have to roll the dice with the Tigers. I actually like ULM quite a bit this year, as I think they are going to be a strong team to back against the spread in Sun Belt play. The problem here is I think asking them to keep it within 28-points on the road is going to be a difficult task.

I just don’t feel Memphis is getting the respect they deserve going into the season. The Tigers have one of the most experienced teams in the nation with a senior quarterback that threw for nearly 3,700 yards and 31 touchdowns in his first year on the job.

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No reason to think the offense won’t be even better  in 2017 with 8 other starters coming back. That includes the top 3 rushers, top two weapons in the passing game and 4 of 5 starters on the o-line. ULM allowed 39.1 ppg and 480 ypg last year. While they should be better, they are way outclassed here.

I think there’s a decent chance Memphis throws up 50 or more points. I just don’t see the Warhawks offense being able to put up enough to cover the spread. Memphis doesn’t have a top level defense by any means, but it’s good enough to keep ULM’s attack in check. The Warhawks only averaged 23.3 ppg and 373 ypg last year.

It’s also worth noting that the Tigers have been a good team to back of late in non-conference play. Memphis is 16-6-1 ATS in their last 23 games outside of conference action. Last year they had a 43-7 win over Kansas at home and a 77-3 victory over Bowling Green at home. ULM isn’t as talented as either of those teams.