The Spotlight for this Friday contains a school we’ve written up once this year, but they’ve earned the honor again, congratulations Memphis. We’re writing them up again as the only non-top 25 matchup tonight (the Boise State game isn’t supposed be close at all) that has the possibility for postseason implications. There is the potential for a change at the top of the American Conference’s West Division where SMU currently leads, 3 other teams are right in the mix (including Memphis).
Memphis has had to change how they run their offense based on where they play, even in terms of play selection. In home games, Memphis is averaging just shy of 46 rushing attempts per game, and just under 28 passing attempts per game. When the game shifts away from the safety of home, the game plan shifts markedly dropping to 35 (-11) rushing attempts and increasing to 31 passing attempts per game. During away games have come 3 out of the 4 losses, with the sole loss at home coming against 10th-ranked UCF where they lost by a sole point. On the season the squad is averaging 3.4 rushing TDs, which shifts to 2.75 on away games and 2.3 passing TDs, decreasing to 1.75 away. The interception numbers increase almost 4.5x away as well.
Memphis’ offense has been fantastic at home averaging 600+ yards of total offense per game, averaging ~327 passing yards and ~276 rushing yards per game. To highlight this fact, they are averaging a combined 6.5 Touchdowns per game at home (39 pts) in route to an average of 51.5 points scored per game. Their defense at home has been significantly better also, allowing an average of only 335.5 yards allowed/game by limiting rushing yardage to 121.5 and passing yardage to 210.
Away from home, the offense has struggled mightily. There is a huge 200 yards/game difference between the home and away versions of the Tigers. They are averaging fewer touchdowns (and points). The total equates to just over 425 combined yards. The rushing yardage total drops almost 150 yards due in part to a dramatic decrease in the number of carries per game (~11), but also an efficiency drop of nearly two yards per attempt from 7.13 yards/carry at home to 5.29 yards/carry on the road. Continuing their struggles away from home, they’ve managed to reduce their passing production by about 30 yards/game, despite the increase in the number of attempts. They suffer from a similar 2 yards/attempt drop in passing efficiency from 9.9 to 7.8 yards/attempt.
Although the defense has mirrored the team’s offensive form it hasn’t been to quite the same extent. The defense has given up only about 170 additional yards away from home. They’ve averaged 503 yards allowed away, compared to the 331.5 they’ve allowed at home. The biggest change from a defensive standpoint is the allowance of nearly 120 additional yards rushing per game as well as allowing increased rushing efficiency to the tune of 1.5 yards/attempt. The difference in passing yardage is largely from the efficiency standpoint also, where they are allowing nearly 2 yards/attempt more. However, the Tiger’s have an average of 1.5 less penalties per game on the road resulting in nearly 25 yards less penalty yardage versus their home averages.
One final area to note is that the Tigers have an average of -1 turnover margin (compared to +1) on the road.
SMU’s home offense has not been nearly as prolific as Memphis’ has been, but like Memphis, it has been better at home. At home they are averaging 150.4 rushing and 266.4 passing yards (compared to 109.6 and 253.6 on the road, respectively) for a total of 30.4 points/game. SMU has a similar shift in game strategy but there’s isn’t nearly as seismic of a change resulting in +5 passing attempts and rushing attempts at home.
SMU has a much smaller split between home and away yardage 416.8 and 363.2 (net difference of only 50 yards).
Just like SMU’s offense the difference between their home and away defense is far less substantial than Memphis’ allowing 191.4 rushing yards/game and 189.4 passing yards/game at home. They’ve yielded slightly higher rushing yards/game (210.8 away) and passing yards/game (v. 270.2 away). The turnover margin for SMU is +7 at home equating to about 1.5 takeways/game.
I’m no professional odds maker, but I think this game is going to be a close fought battle between these teams. Neither is going to want to cede any headway for the division title and the matchups lend themselves to a great game. I think there is a potential for a bit of a shootout, the actual oddsmakers have this game at an over/under of 73 points, and Memphis winning by a touchdown. Memphis’ struggles away from home set up what is likely to be a fantastic game. Hope you enjoy your Friday Night Spotlight!
Until next week…
Last Updated: Novemeber 16, 2018