This Saturday the Memphis Tigers will host the Ole Miss Rebels in the 2019 season opener for both teams. This highly anticipated Week 1 matchup is scheduled for 12:00 EST at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and will be televised nationally on ABC.
Oddsmakers opened this line with Memphis as a 6.5-point home favorite, but that has been bet down the Tigers -5.5. The total opened at 68 and can still be had at that price, though there are some books that have dropped it to 67.5.
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Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Mississippi vs Memphis
Ole Miss Rebels
It’s crazy to think that after just missing out on a spot in the SEC title game in 2015, Ole Miss has not even been able to get to a bowl the last years. They went 5-7 in 2016, the next year they were 6-6 but had a self-imposed bowl ban and last year reverted back to 5-7.
It’s now year three for the Rebels under head coach Matt Luke and the pressure is on to at the worst get back to a bowl game. Luke will have to make it work with just 3 starters back on offense. The losses are big with starting quarterback Jordan Ta’amu gone and 4 of their top 5 receivers departed (3 of the 4 taken in the first 3 rounds of the NFL Draft).
They do have 10 starters back on defense and there’s a lot of optimism on that side of the ball with the hire of former Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre to be the new DC. There’s also have a former head coach taking over the offense, as Rich Rodriguez is the new OC.
The Tigers are coming off another successful season under head coach Mike Norvell. While Memphis only won 8-games they played their way into the AAC title game for a second straight year. The Tigers would lose the American Athletic Championship in heartbreaking fashion. Memphis had a 24-7 lead after the 1st quarter and a 38-21 edge at the half, only to lose 41-56. (blew a 30-17 halftime lead over UCF in the regular-season, lost 30-31).
Memphis has now gone 26-14 in the first 3 years under Norvell and that’s with a 0-5 mark in both the AAC title (0-2) and bowl games (0-3). With 14 returning starters (6 offense, 8 defense), including the return of junior quarterback Brady White, this is definitely a team that will be in the mix for the top spot in the AAC this year.
The big concern with the Tigers will be how they adjust to two new coordinators. Kevin Johns comes over from Texas Tech to be the new OC and Adam Fuller left Marshall to be the new DC.
College Football Free Pick & Betting Predictions: Ole Miss +5.5
I would have to lean towards taking Ole Miss and the points. I understand why Memphis is getting so much love in this matchup, but I also think they got no business laying almost a touchdown against a SEC team, especially a team that has the talent that Ole Miss has.
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I get it was on the road, but I can’t get past the whooping Memphis took in a road game at Missouri last year. They lost by a final of 65-33 as a 9-point dog. Note that given that line, that means the Tigers would have been around a 3-point dog at home to Missouri last year.
I think a big reason that Memphis is favored like they are is the talent they got at quarterback in Brady White. He put up fantastic numbers last year. However, the Tigers offense does lose an elite playmaker in running back Darrell Henderson, who rushed for 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns. They also lose three multi-year starters on the offensive line.
I also think people are sleeping on Ole Miss red-shirt freshman quarterback Matt Corral. He actually got in 4 games as true freshman, none more impressive than his mop up duty against ULM, when he went 10 for 10, throwing for 143 yards and 2 scores.
I get he loses a ton of talent at wide receiver, but they have been recruiting extremely well at the position for years now. They might be a bit raw, but there are some real playmakers in the group. Ole Miss also has a ton of talent back at running back.
I don’t see Memphis being able to slow this offense down. On the flip side of things, I’m excited to see what MacIntyre can do with all that returning talent on defense.
Luke has already made it public that the Rebels are playing with a chip on their shoulder and you can bet he’s brought up the fact his team is an underdog against a non-power 5 opponent multiple times in fall practice. I love teams who I think have more talent that have something to prove. Give me the Rebels +5.5!