This is the second bowl game the Tigers (6-6, 3-5 AAC) will play in the Dallas area after their trip to the 2019 Cotton Bowl. Utah State (6-6, 5-3 Mountain West) is coached by Blake Anderson, who has been there for two seasons.
Although Utah State and Memphis haven't met since 1977, Anderson has faced the Tigers much more recently. As Arkansas State head coach, Anderson traveled to Memphis in 2020 and the Tigers won 37-24 in Ryan Silverfield's first home game as head coach.
Here's a quick scouting report on Utah State along with a score prediction.
Last season, Utah State went 11-3 and won the Mountain West championship in Anderson's first year. This year was more of a struggle. but the Aggies ended the year well.
After a 1-4 start, Utah State won five of its last seven games. Like Memphis, the Aggies lost their regular-season finale, 42-23 to Boise State. The Aggies also had a four-game losing streak this season, including a 55-0 loss at Alabama.
Utah State's offense is led by senior running back Calvin Tyler Jr., who has 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry. Senior receiver Brian Cobbs has 70 receptions for 844 yards, both team highs.
Junior quarterback Cooper Legas has thrown for 1,465 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions. Offensive lineman Alfred Edwards was the Aggies' lone All-Mountain West first team selection, while Tyler and Cobbs earned second-team honors.
Freshman defensive back Ike Larsen has four interceptions, while senior Hunter Reynolds has three.
The Aggies struggled offensively this season after being 19th in total offense in 2021. They're 92nd (among 131 FBS schools) in total offense, 99th in scoring offense and 112th in yards per play. Utah State is also 128th in red-zone offense.
Memphis' run game might get a boost from an Aggies team ranked 119th in the country. Utah State has allowed seven opponents to rush for more than 200 yards this season while giving up 30.6 points per game. The Aggies are also ranked 125th in red-zone defense, another advantage for Memphis being a top-30 red-zone offense.
Memphis 24, Utah State 21: This is favorable matchup for the Tigers because Utah State's offense isn't efficient or explosive. At the same time, Memphis hasn't played well away from home. This could be a low-scoring struggle despite both defenses being shaky, but the Tigers will end the season with a win.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis football vs. Utah State: Score prediction, scouting report