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Iowa State vs. Memphis: Picks, best bets for Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Friday

The Cyclones and Tigers will meet in Memphis for the Liberty Bowl. Iowa State is a two-score favorite even as the road team in this one.

Iowa State v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

The 2023 AutoZone Liberty Bowl will take place this afternoon as the Iowa State Cyclones will battle the host Memphis Tigers at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis. This game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN.

Iowa State (7-5, 6-3 Big 12) got off to a shaky start to the year, but managed to turn things around by midseason. Some of that shakiness stemmed from the gambling scandal that broke right before the start of the campaign and it showed on the field with the Cyclones falling to Ohio in mid-September. However, they’d win four of their next five contests and were in the Big 12 title hunt late into the year. With previous starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers involved with the aforementioned scandal, redshirt freshman Rocco Becht had a breakout campaign and earned Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.

Memphis (9-3, 6-2 AAC) had its best season under head coach Ryan Silverfield and came up just short of reaching the AAC Championship Game. The Tigers handled its business throughout the season and its three losses to Missouri, Tulane, and SMU all came within just 10 points. The offense was extremely potent by the end of the season as they scored 44+ points in five of their last six games. Quarterback Seth Henigan threw for over 3,500 yards while running back Blake Watson had a 1,000-yard season on the ground and wide receiver Roc Taylor finished the regular season with just under 1,000 receiving yards.

SP+ Rankings

Iowa State: 34 overall, 70 offense, 18 defense
Memphis: 57 overall, 14 offense, 112 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

Iowa State

WR Quaron Adams – Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Greg Gaines – Out (Transfer Portal)
RB Cartevious Norton – Out (Transfer Portal)
RB Eli Sanders – Out (Transfer Portal)

Memphis

QB Tevin Carter – Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Koby Drake – Questionable (Undisclosed)
RB Raydrian McKneely – Out (Transfer Portal

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

Iowa State: 7-5 ATS
Memphis: 4-7-1 ATS

Total in 2023

Iowa State: Over 5-7
Memphis: Over 10-2

Team Pace

Iowa State: 1.99 plays per minute of offense
Memphis: 2.29 plays per minute of offense

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Iowa State -10.5
Total: 57
Moneyline: Iowa State -410, Memphis +320

Opening line: Iowa State -9.5
Opening total: 57.5

Weather

41 degrees, cloudy with a few showers, 9 MPH winds with 18 MPH wind gusts

Our Best Bet for the Liberty Bowl

Over 57

Memphis is the home team in this game and on top of the familiarity of playing in its home stadium, I think this bowl will have the look of a typical Memphis game from this season. The Tiger defense was horrendous this year and that presents the perfect opportunity for Becht and company to pick it apart. With the Cyclones putting points on the board, Memphis’ offense will be compelled to keep up and turn this into a track meet. Hammer the over.