By Ryan Nelson (@TheRyanNelson_)
BOCA RATON -- Interim head coach Nick Holt will be calling the shots for Western Kentucky tonight in the Boca Raton Bowl. Unfortunately for Holt, Tuesday will not be an audition for the head coaching position – WKU hired Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to replace former head coach Jeff Brohm.
Bovada has the over/under set at 80 in this game, and for good reason.
Holt, the team’s defensive coordinator in 2016, brings one of the nation’s most explosive offenses into Boca Raton. The Hilltoppers averaged 45.1 points per game, second in Football Bowl Subdivision play.
WKU QB Mike White threw for 4,047 passing yards this season, which ranks sixth among FBS quarterbacks. The Ft. Lauderdale native returns to South Florida with offensive weapons galore.
The Tops boast the most prolific wide receiver tandem in the country. WR Taywan Taylor hauled in the second most receiving yards (1,586) in the FBS, and tacked on 16 touchdowns to boot. WR Nicholas Norris found the end zone 13 times on his own, and tallied 1,253 yards.
Don’t be deceived – WKU can do more than throw it around the yard. RB Anthony ‘Ace’ Wales scored the second most rushing touchdowns (24) among FBS running backs.
Memphis Averaged 39.5 Points Per Game (17th in FBS) in 2016
The Tigers are coming off a thrilling last second win over then 20th ranked Houston – edging out the Cougars 48-44. Memphis and Houston combined for over 1,000 yards of offense in that tilt.
QB Riley Ferguson threw for 400+ yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions against Houston. In his last three games (excluding an early exit against Cincinnati due to injury), Ferguson averaged 342 yards passing, and just under four touchdowns.
The similarities between WKU and Memphis don’t end at quarterback play. WR Anthony Miller caught 84 passes for 1,283 yards, and 11 touchdowns on the season.
Like the Tops, the Tigers can hand the ball off to their running back. RB Doroland Dorceus had nine rushing touchdowns in 2016, and averaged 6.2 yards per touch.
Defenses Be Wary
The defense that withstands four quarters of offensive onslaught will likely hoist the Boca Raton Bowl Championship trophy on Tuesday night. WKU ranks 39th in points allowed (24.1) this season, while the Tigers rank 55th (27.0).
Live Action Updates
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