Utah State (6-6) vs. Memphis (6-6)
Kickoff: Tuesday, 1:15 p.m. MT
Venue: Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000 capacity)
Radio: Sirius XM 382 / SXM App 972
Series: Utah State trails Memphis in the all-time series, with a 3-4 record. The teams first met in 1965, and haven’t faced off since 1977. This will be the second neutral-site game in the series, the previous one coming in 1967.
For Utah State: The Aggies are 6-6 overall, 5-3 in Mountain West Conference play. The Aggies last played on Nov. 25, when they fell at Boise State 42-23. USU started the year 1-4 but won five of its last seven games, including key wins over Air Force (10-3) and San Jose State (7-5).
For Memphis: The Tigers are 6-6 on the year, 3-5 in American Athletic Conference play. The Tigers last played on Nov. 26, when they lost at SMU 34-31. Memphis was up-and-down all season, competitive in all but one game but inconsistent with winning. Of the Tigers six losses, five came by 10 points or less.
What to watch for
The battle in the the trenches.
Per USU head coach Blake Anderson, the First Responder Bowl will be decided up front, along the defensive lines.
Both Memphis and Utah State have capable — and mobile — quarterbacks in Seth Henigan and Cooper Legas, but both offenses have had their greatest success when they’ve been able to run the ball.
Utah State has senior running back Calvin Tyler Jr., who rushed for 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the Aggies’ No. 58-ranked rushing offense (161.9 yards per game).
Memphis doesn’t have one main rusher, instead relying on five players to rush for a combined 1,553 yards and 27 touchdowns.
The Tigers were actually less effective racking up rushing yards than the Aggies (141.9 per game) but are excellent at getting into the end zone with 28 total rushing touchdowns, compared to 14 for the Aggies.
Utah State’s rushing defense has been hit and miss this season — the Aggies rank 118th in the country, surrendering 198.2 yards per game — while Memphis rates considerably higher at No. 25 in the country, allowing only 121.8 yards per game.
Seth Henigan, QB, Memphis:
The Tigers are not lacking for skill position players. Four pass catchers recorded 400-plus receiving yards this season — tight end Caden Prieskorn and wide receivers Javon Ivory, Eddie Lewis and Gabriel Rogers — and if the bar is lowered to 300 or more yards the numbers jumps to six.
Memphis also had multiple effective ball carriers, including Jevyon Ducker (461 yards and five touchdowns), Asa Martin (392 yards and seven touchdowns) and Brandon Thomas (270 yards and nine touchdowns).
The guy who made it all go, though, was quarterback Seth Henigan.
Henigan was a prolific passer this season, throwing for 3,287 yards and 19 touchdowns, to only eight interceptions. Henigan also proved adept at running the ball, finishing third on the team with 315 yards and four touchdowns.
With Henigan “under center” the Tigers ranked No. 22 in scoring offense in the FBS and 41st in total offense.
“We have a big challenge. Memphis is a very big, physical, run the ball right at you football team. At times this year we have looked really good in that setting and at times we have not. We have to be more physical then them up front and focus on the game.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson
“Got great respect for (Anderson) and what he’s done at Utah State. 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.” — Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield
The Utah State Aggies open the 2023-24 college football season on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023 in Iowa City, Iowa against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Utah State schedule
Aug. 27 — Utah State 31, UConn 20
Sept. 3 — No. 1 Alabama 55, Utah State 0
Sept. 10 — Weber State 35, Utah State 7
Sept. 17 — BYE
Sept. 24 — UNLV 34, Utah State 24
Sept. 29 — No. 16 BYU 38, Utah State 26
Oct. 8 — Utah State 34, Air Force 27
Oct. 15 — Utah State 17, Colorado State 13
Oct. 22 — Wyoming 28, Utah State 14
Oct. 29 — BYE
Nov. 5 — Utah State 27, New Mexico 10
Nov. 12 — Utah State 41, Hawaii 34
Nov. 19 — Utah State 35, San José State 31
Nov. 25 — Boise State 42, Utah State 23
Dec. 27 — Utah State vs. Memphis