Utah State and Memphis finished the regular season on opposite trajectories, but the two .500 teams will collide at the First Responder Bowl on Tuesday in Dallas.
Utah State (6-6) won five of its last seven regular-season games to qualify for a bowl game for the second straight season and 10th time in the past 12 years.
Memphis (6-6) lost five of its last seven games but secured a bowl berth for the ninth consecutive season, the longest active streak of any non-Power 5 team in the country.
“Love the matchup against Memphis,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “Really good football team.”
The Aggies haven’t played Memphis since 1977, but Anderson faced the Tigers in the 2020 season opener when he was coaching Arkansas State.
The 37-24 win by Memphis was also the first victory at the school for coach Ryan Silverfield.
“(I’m) familiar with those guys,” Anderson said. “I have watched them play several times this year and know what kind of challenge that’ll be.”
The Aggies defeated three teams that earned bowl invitations this season: UConn, Air Force and San Jose State.
Utah State is led by junior quarterback Cooper Legas, who has completed 61.2 percent of his passes this season for 1,465 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
His favorite receiver has been Brian Cobbs, who has 70 receptions for 844 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Calvin Tyler Jr. rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown in Utah State’s 42-23 loss to Boise State in the regular-season finale on Nov. 25, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark on the season for the first time in his five-year collegiate career.
“Got great respect for (Anderson) and what he’s done at Utah State,” Silverfield said. “We know that they are going to present a challenge. We know that they are only a year removed from an 11-win season. They’ve got an over 1,000-yard rusher and nine all-conference-type players.”
Seth Henigan started every game this season at quarterback for Memphis. He has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,275 yards and 19 touchdowns with eight interceptions.
The Tigers lost running back Brandon Thomas to a season-ending injury on Nov. 10 against Tulsa, leaving Jevyon Ducker and Asa Martin to carry the load against Utah State.
“They run the ball and run it extremely well,” Anderson said.
–Field Level Media