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Memphis Set as Underdog on Cotton Bowl Odds

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The Memphis Tigers will be looking to end a four-game straight up losing streak in bowl games when they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday in this year’s Cotton Bowl as 7-point underdogs on the college football betting odds.

Memphis last earned a postseason berth five years ago, a 55-48 win over BYU in the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl, which marked the team’s only SU and against the spread victory in a bowl game in seven appearances going into Saturday afternoon’s matchup at AT&T Stadium.

While the Tigers have historically struggled during the postseason, they have been dominant in regular season play this year. Memphis marched to a 12-1 SU record, capped by a 29-24 win over Cincinnati in the AAC championship game three weeks ago to claim their first undisputed conference title since 1969.

Overall, the Tigers have posted seven straight victories, including four wins by double-digit margins, but have struggled to pay dividends at the sportsbooks. The team has failed to cover in each of its past two outings, and has posted consecutive ATS wins just once during a middling 3-4-1 run in college football betting. Memphis has also seen point totals drop significantly in recent contests.

After eking out a 15-10 win over Mississippi in their season opener, the Tigers averaged 44.9 points per game in 10 subsequent outings, fueling an 8-2 run for the OVER in totals betting. However, with just 31.5 points per game scored in its past two contests, Memphis has seen the UNDER prevail in each of its past three games. Low point totals have also been common in recent bowl games involving Memphis, with the Tigers averaging just 23.75 points per game during their four-game bowl game slide. The team is also a dismal 0-5 SU when pegged as a bowl game underdog.


Penn State Inconsistent Heading into Cotton Bowl


The Nittany Lions make their first appearance in the Cotton Bowl since 1974 after closing out their season with a 10-2 SU record to lay claim to the No. 10 spot on the College Football Playoff rankings.

Penn State opened the season in impressive fashion, posting SU wins in its first eight outings, but has stumbled down the stretch, alternating between SU wins and losses over the past four contests. The Nittany Lions have also largely been a betting disappointment, failing to cover in back-to-back games during a 4-6 ATS run that featured a 31-26 loss to Minnesota while pegged as 6.5-point road chalk. That marked the first of two defeats that Penn State has suffered of late on the road, ending a 9-1 SU run that dates back to November 2017.

The Nittany Lions have also failed to cover in three straight outings while listed as favorites on the college football odds. That disappointing trend extends to the team’s recent bowl game appearances. While Penn State has raised the hardware in four of their past five bowl game appearances, it is just 2-3-1 ATS in its past six. However, the Nittany Lions remain undefeated in three previous Cotton Bowl appearances, posting decisive wins by double-digit margins in each of their past two after settling for a 13-13 tie with SMU in their Cotton Bowl debut back in 1947.

And while Saturday’s contest marks the first ever meeting on the gridiron between these two teams, the Nittany Lions have enjoyed regular success in past matchups with opponents from the AAC. Penn State has earned the win in eight of its last 10 games against AAC squads, but sports a 4-11 ATS mark in 15 contests since 2000.

Also of concern is the Nittany Lions’ recent ATS record when favored by six or more points against any opponent. Penn State has gone 12-1 SU in its past 13 as a betting favorite of six or more points, but is winless ATS in its past five.


*Odds as of December 27, 2019

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