What to know before Utah State’s bowl game & how to watch or listen to the game – Cache Valley Daily

Utah State wide receiver Brian Cobbs (8) catches the ball on the sidelines in front of Boise State cornerback Caleb Biggers (1) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Steve Conner)

DALLAS – More than a month after Utah State played its last game the Aggies will be in action in Texas, facing off against the Memphis Tigers. Both teams come into the game with identical records of 6-6, though each team took different routes to get there. USU started the season 1-4 while Memphis went 4-1 through five games. The Aggies won five of their last seven games to become bowl eligible while the Tigers squandered its start by losing five of their last seven games.

Game Info

  • Kickoff: 1:15 p.m. MT
  • Location:Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas
  • TV Broadcast: ESPN
  • Radio Broadcast: KVNU (102.1 FM/610 AM), simulcast on 106.9 FM/1390 AM The FAN
  • Aggie GameDay Coverage on KVNU and The FAN: 11 a.m. MT
  • KVNU Aggie Call: Immediately after game ends

What to watch for

Injury update

Blake Anderson on the USU sideline during their game vs Air Force on Oct. 8, 2022. Photo by Lorene Hale.

With a month off there are some players who will be back to relatively full health and be available to play for the Aggies. USU head coach Blake Anderson said defensive backs Michael Anyanwu and Ajani Carter are expected to be back and sophomore edge rusher John Ward could be available to rotate in on the defensive line.

One notable name on the injury list is Cache Valley product Ike Larsen. The freshman safety was out against Boise State and is questionable for Tuesday. Anderson said roughly a week ago that if they played then, Larsen wouldn’t have been ready but has a chance to play in the bowl game.

A big loss in the Aggie secondary will be cornerback Andre Grayson. The senior graduated and opted not to play in the bowl game, instead choosing to take an early leap into his post-football endeavors.

Can the Aggies slow Seth Henigan?

Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan (5) throws a pass as offensive lineman Austin Myers (55) blocks against SMU defensive tackle Elijah Chatman (40) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Dallas. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

All eyes will need to be on Memphis’ quarterback Seth Henigan. He’s by far the most productive player on the Tigers’ offense. When plays need to be made, either through the air or on the ground, Henigan is often going to be right there making things happen.

“He’s really, really mobile and athletic. Loves to move the chains with his feet,” Anderson said. “He can make all the throws. Very athletic. He’s one of those scrappy, competitive football players. And it shows. I had the chance to watch him play several times this year and he always seemed to make the play when he needed to, when things are most critical.”

Henigan is the primary force behind the 35 points per game the Tigers score and its nearly 280 passing yards per game. And as Anderson noted, Henigan can run, too. He’s got 313 rushing yards on the season which includes four games of 40-plus rushing yards.

The Aggies are 25th nationally allowing only 198 yards passing per game. Henigan has thrown for 3,275 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Only one of Utah State’s opponents has thrown for more than 300 yards, and six were held to 202 or less.

Sneaky-good Memphis rushing attack

Memphis ranks 81st in FBS in rushing yards per game, which is below average but not awful. However, if you’ve listened to what Blake Anderson has had to say about the Tigers you’d not think that’s where they’d rank. Anderson has repeatedly praised Memphis’ rushing attack in press conferences.

Diving a bit deeper than a shallow yards per game number backs up what Anderson’s said. Looking at the Tigers’ top rushers and you’ll see they’ve been highly efficient. Jevyon Ducker, who leads the team in rushing yards, has averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Asa Martin, second in yards for the team, averages 5.2 per carry this season.

You can also try to adjust Henigan’s rushing total by taking out yards lost on sacks. Do that and he’s on the cusp of averaging five yards per carry, himself.

There’s also the fact that despite moving the ball largely through the air, Memphis’ preferred method of scoring a touchdown is on the ground. The Tigers have 28 rushing touchdowns on the season (to just 20 passing ones) led by the nine from fourth-leading rusher Brandon Thomas, followed by the seven from Martin, five from Ducker and four from Henigan.

Cooper Legas vs Tigers’ pass defense

Utah State quarterback Cooper Legas (5) looks to throw the ball against Boise State in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Steve Conner)

The Achilles Heel of this Memphis team has been its defense, in particular its passing defense. The Tigers rank 98th in passing yards allowed at just over 250 per game. It contrasts heavily with their top-30 ranked rushing defense and is what led to Memphis’ rank in the bottom half of the country in points allowed per game.

Cooper Legas began to find a groove over the last few weeks of the season. In his last three starts, the junior signal-caller has averaged nearly 263 yards per game, becoming more than just a game manager and more of someone who truly drives the offense forward.

It would follow, given these facts, that this could be a big advantage for the Aggies but Memphis is likely underrated in its pass defense. Looking a little closer at the Tigers’ schedule shows they’ve played five quarterbacks that rank inside the top 20 in passing yards per game.

“They played a lot of really good people and it’s hard to keep numbers down when you play the skill that they’re playing against,” Anderson said. “I trust my eye. I see length and speed and guys that can run around. I don’t know that the stats are as telling as what you see on tape.”

USU trying to break from its own historical trend

During Utah State’s run of 10 bowl appearances in 12 years, there have been four instances where the Aggies entered the game at either 6-6 or 7-5. Basically those times the team eked into a bowl game. In those four games (2011 and 2015 Potato Bowl, 2017 Arizona Bowl, and 2019 Frisco Bowl) Utah State is 0-4.

Being barely bowl eligible hasn’t exactly been a herald of victory for Utah State. This will be a chance to not only break from history but, more importantly, be able to lay claim to a winning record.

Memphis, on the other hand, has been to a bowl game every year since 2014 but has only won two games in that eight year span. Under Coach Ryan Silverfield, Memphis is 1-1 (it should be noted their bowl vs Hawai’i last year was cancelled).

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