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Preview of the Miami Beach Bowl

While most people will be in chilly temperatures during the first couple of days of winter, the Memphis Tigers and the BYU Cougars will be meeting in sunny South Florida for the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl. Both Memphis and BYU will come into Monday afternoon’s game at Marlins Park on a winning streak.

Memphis won their last six games to claim a share of the American Athletic Conference Championship. This will be the first time Memphis has played in a bowl game since the 2008 St. Petersburg Bowl against South Florida.

The 2014 season for BYU has been a defined by streaks. The team won their first four games of the season, only to lose their next four games. After their four game losing streak, they won their last four to close out the regular season.

The Cougars’ offense is averaging 426 yards per game, which ranked 26th in the country during the regular season. BYU will be going up against a stingy Tigers defense, that finished as the 21st best in all of college football.

The offense of BYU is very balanced as they are led by quarterback Christian Stewart and a stable of running backs. While the Cougars haven’t had many problems on offense, they are going up against a Memphis defense has only allowed 17.1 points per game, which is the fifth best in the nation.

If Stewart is able to continue on the pace he was on during the last month of the season, there is no reason why BYU shouldn’t be able to move the football on offense. The quarterback averaged 320 yards per game and threw for 14 touchdowns against one interception in his last four games.

If you have never heard the name Tank Jakes, you will after watching the Miami Beach Bowl. The Memphis linebacker finished the season with 83 tackles and four sacks, which was good enough to earn him AAC co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. Jakes is undersized at 5’11 and 225 pounds, but he’s a player that’s always seems to be around the football. Don’t be surprised if you see the senior at an NFL stadium near you in 2015.

Memphis doesn’t just boast a great defense, they have some weapons on offense that can hurt their opponents as well. Quarterback Paxton Lynch threw for 2,725 yards and 18 touchdowns in 12 games this season. Running back Brandon Hayes rushed for 900 yards, five touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Prediction

Sure BYU has one of the best offenses in college football, but their passing defense has been less than stellar this season. The team finished 104th in passing defense. So Hayes and the Memphis offense should be able to have success throwing the ball in the air.

A great defense usually trumps a great offense and Memphis has the players to contain the Cougars’ passing attack. Remember, this is the same Tigers team that only lost to the UCLA Bruins by a touchdown in September.

Memphis will make BYU offense work for everything it gets. While it should be an entertaining contest, look for Memphis to win in a close one.

Winner Memphis 27-24

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