NCAA Football Montgomery Bowl: Memphis/Florida Atlantic Preview

by Big Al Staff

The Montgomery Bowl features a pair of three-loss teams from Group of Five conference programs on Wednesday night on ESPN.  It will be played at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama, the neutral site location for this bowl game.

Memphis has won four of their last five games to raise their record to a 7-3 mark. The Tigers last played on December 12th when they upset Houston by a 30-27 score as a 7-point underdog. Memphis used an 85-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown to help them take a 27-6 lead entering the fourth quarter before allowing the Cougars to score three unanswered touchdowns to tie the game with 28 seconds left in the game. Yet quarterback Brady White led the Tigers’ offense to the Houston 30-yard line, where they kicked a winning 47-yard field goal to escape with the victory. 

White completed 22 of 35 passes for 246 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the win. The senior is completing 66.2% of his passes this season for 3096 yards with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

First-year head coach Ryan Satterfield experienced several opt-outs from the skill positions on offense this year. Running back Kenneth Gainwell and wide receivers Damonte Coxie and John Williams left the program at various points in the season. Memphis still scored 31.6 points-per-game while averaging 451.6 yards-per-game with that latter number ranking 26th in the nation.

The Tigers defense struggled at times as they ranked 102nd in the nation by allowing 448.7 yards-per-game. Three of their last four victories were by seven combined points, with their only easy win in that span being their 56-14 triumph over an FCS opponent in Stephen F. Austin.

Florida Atlantic was riding a four-game winning streak before they closed out their regular season with a 20-3 loss at Georgia Southern and then a 45-31 upset loss at Southern Mississippi. The Owls placed their worst defensive game of the season against the Golden Eagles by giving up 515 total yards.

First-year head coach Willie Taggart brought in former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt as his defensive coordinator, who shifted the unit to a 4-3 formation without the benefit of spring practices. Yet FAU ranked ninth in the nation by allowing only 16.5 points-per-game, and they ranked 15th in the country by giving up 326.4 yards-per-game.

Taggart set a tone early in his tenure by an All-Conference returning starter at quarterback in Chris Robison. Former Indiana transfer Nick Tronti and redshirt freshman Javian Posey have competed for the starting position throughout the regular season. Posey’s mobility persuaded Taggart to give him the nod as the starter as the season moved forward, yet his troubles with turnovers have still given opportunities for Tronti. Posey has completed 30 of his 60 passes for 390 yards with two touchdown passes and three interceptions while adding 401 rushing yards on a 7.2 yards-per-carry average. Tronti completed 54.1% of his passes for 759 yards with five touchdown passes and two interceptions. He has rushed for 116 yards on just a 1.9 yards-per-carry average.

FAU has won five games this season despite scoring only 20.0 points-per-game. That scoring mark is 112th in the nation, and the 328.9 yards-per-game average is 111th in the country.

The Owls are 4-0 in their history in bowl games after they defeated SMU by a 52-28 score under head coach Lane Kiffin in the Boca Raton Bowl last year. Memphis lost by a 53-39 score to Penn State in the Cotton Bowl last season despite White throwing for 479 yards.

BookMaker lists Memphis as a 9.5-point favorite with the total set at 52. The ESPN broadcast starts at 7 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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